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John Charles 

^^^<!e-<*^*-C— 'T*-^^ 


The Bear Flag Revolt 
and the Court-Martial 


"He had no outward indications of tne -a 

mountain traveller about him; all was 
quiet, tvell bred, and retireing. . . . Yet in 
his eye. you saw something which shewed 
contempt of danger and proclaimed him 
a man to be obeyed under all circum- 
stances."— xht artist Alfred S. Waugh 


John Charles Fremont 

Volume 2 : The Bear Flag Revolt 
and the Court-Martial 


Beginning with his third CaHfornia ex- 
pedition of 1845— a time of glory for Fre- 
mont — and concluding in the spring of 
1848 with his bitter resignation from the 
Army, this volume covers a pivotal por- 
tion of the career of one of the most ac- 
claimed travelers of the nineteenth-century 

From 1845 to 1848, Fremont became in- 
volved in the political activity and in- 
trigue which led to his famous court-mar- 
tial iri 1848 — a "Dreyfus case," his wife 
wrote later. Fremont's third California ex- 
pedition, his participation in the Bear Flag 
Revolt of 1846, his command of the Cali- 
fornia Battalion, and his seven weeks as 
governor (during which time he defied 
the military authority of Stephen Watts 
Kearny) are all covered by the documents 
in this volume. They point to Fremont's 
continued interest in the topography and 
flora of the West (he sent cases of plants 
by sea to botanist John Torrey), his some- 
times insensitive treatment of the Indians, 
and his relationships with many promi- 
nent figures, including Robert F. Stock- 
ton, Thomas O. Larkin, Mariano G. Val- 
lejo, Kit Carson, and Thomas H. Benton. 

{Continued on bac\ flap) 


John Charles Fremont 

John Charles Fremont as he looked about 1849. From a print in 
Walter Colton's Three Years in California (New York, 1850). 


John Charles 


The Bear Flag Revolt 
and the Court-Martial 




John Charles Fremont 


Herman R. Friis 
Robert W. Johannsen 

© 1973 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 

Manufactured in the United States of America. 

Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 73-100374. 

ISBN 0-252-00249-0 


As in Volume 1, we find it impossible to thank by name the many 
scholars and librarians who have given us assistance in preparing 
the present volume. We do wish to acknowledge, however, the con- 
tinuing support of the National Historical Publications Commission, 
the Research Board of the University of Illinois, and the staff of the 
University of Illinois Press. We are grateful to Miss Jessie Fremont, 
Washington, D.C., the granddaughter of John Charles and Jessie 
Benton Fremont, for permission to use family papers. 

During the preparation of the work, two distinguished members 
of our Advisory Committee died: Allan Nevins and Dale L. Mor- 
gan. Each was enthusiastic about the project, and each brought his 
own kind of expertise to our aid on many occasions. 

The role of Donald Jackson has been secondary in the preparation 
of this volume. He has served mainly as an advisor, while the re- 
search and writing has been done by Mary Lee Spence. 



Introduction xix 

Symbols li 

The 1845 Expedition and the Clash with the Californians 

1. excerpt from the Memoirs, [26 may- 16 aug. 1845] 3 


3. EXCERPT FROM THE McmoirS, [ 16 AUG. 1845-24 JAN. 1846] I3 

4. fremont to jessie b. fremont, 24 jan. 1846 46 

5. journal of edward m. kern of an exploration of the 
Mary's or humboldt river, carson lake, and owens river 

and lake, in 1845 [5 nov. 1845-i5 feb. 1846] 48 

6. EXCERPT FROM THE McmoirS, [24 JAN.-20 FEB. 1846] 63 


8. EXCERPT FROM THE McmoirS, [22 FEB.-3 MARCH 1846] 70 








8 MARCH 1846 77 








22. EXCERPT FROM THE McmoirS, [9 MARCH-24 MAY 1 846] 85 


23. charles william flugge to fremont, 26 march 1 846 i28 

24. fremont to jessie b. fremont, i april 1846 i29 

25. fremont to james clyman, [ april? 1846] i3i 

26. fremont to william a. leidesdorff, 23 april 1 846 i32 

The Bear Flag Revolt and the Conquest of California 

27. fremont to thomas oliver larkin, 24 may 1846 i37 

28. fremont to thomas h. benton, 24 may 1846 137 

29. fremont to archibald h. gillespie, 25 may 1846 i39 

30. thomas oliver larkin to fremont, 3i may 1846 i4o 

31. john b. montgomery to fremont, 3 june 1846 i43 

32. john b. montgomery to fremont, 10 june 1846 i46 

33. jessie b. fremont to fremont, 16 june 1846 i47 

34. fremont to john b. montgomery, 16 june 1846 i5i 

35. john b. montgomery to fremont, 23 june 1846 1 55 

36. Fremont's commission as lieutenant colonel, 

26 JUNE 1846 159 






42. JOHN D. SLOAT TO FREMONT, 9 JULY 1846 168 











53. FREMONT TO SAMUEL F. DU PONT, 3 AUG. 1846 187 





57- robert f. stockton to james k. polk, 26 aug. 1 846 193 

58. robert f. stockton to fremont, t] aug. 1846 i96 

59. robert f. stockton to fremont, 3i aug. 1846 i98 

60. robert f. stockton to fremont, i sept. 1846 i99 

61. Fremont's appointment as military commandant, 

2 SEPT. [1846] 200 






68. FREMONT TO EDWARD M. KERN, 4 OCT. [1846] 2o6 

69. FREMONT TO EDWARD M. KERN, 7 OCT. 1 846 207 

70. ROBERT F. STOCKTON TO FREMONT, 1 3 OCT. 1 846 2o8 


72. FREMONT TO EDWARD M. KERN, 22 OCT. 1 846 2O9 



75. FREMONT TO ROBERT F. STOCKTON, [27 OCT. 1846] 211 








83. JOHN B. MONTGOMERY TO FREMONT, 1 3 NOV. 1 846 222 







90. FREMONT TO EDWARD M. KERN, 20 NOV. 1846 229 




93- EXCERPT FROM THE McmOirS, [28 NOV. 1846-I3 JAN. 1847] 234 


22 DEC. 1846 241 


23 DEC. 1846 243 


23 DEC. 1846 246 


24 DEC. 1846 246 

98. robert f. stockton to fremont, 24 dec. 1846 247 

99. fremont to edward a. selden, 2 jan. 1847 ^4^ 
100. fremont to robert f. stockton, 2 jan. 1847 249 
loi. robert f. stockton to fremont, 3 jan. 1847 249 

102. stephen watts kearny to fremont, 10 jan. [1847] 25o 

103. Fremont's proclamation, 12 jan. 1847 251 

104. stephen watts kearny to fremont, 12 jan. 1847 252 

105. stephen watts kearny to robert f. stockton, 

13 JAN. 1847 252 






16 JAN. 1847 259 

The Quarrel with Stephen Watts Kearny 


16 JAN. 1847 263 


16 JAN. 1847 264 

113. william h. emory to fremont, 16 jan. 1847 265 

114. Fremont's appointment as governor, i6 jan. 1847 267 

115. stephen watts kearny to fremont, i7 jan. | 1847i 268 

116. fremont to stephen watts kearny, i7 jan. 1847 268 

1 17. stephen watts kearny to robert f. stockton, 

17 JAN. 1847 270 



120. FREMONT TO ABEL STEARNS Ct a!., 21 JAN. 1847 273 

121. FREMONT TO FELIPE LUGO Ct ol., 21 JAN. 1847 274 

122. Fremont's circular, 22 jan. 1847 275 

123. fremont to mariano g. vallejo, 22 jan. 1847 276 

124. john grigsby to fremont, 22 jan. 1847 277 

125. fremont to pierson b. reading, 23 jan. 1847 277 

126. fremont to pierson b. reading, 23 jan. 1847 278 

127. fremont to juan bandini, 23 jan. 1847 -7^ 

128. fremont to john temple, 25 jan. 1847 279 

129. fremont to john k. wilson, 25 jan. 1847 280 

130. john b. montgomery to fremont, 26 jan. 1847 280 

131. fremont to thomas h. benton, [3 feb. 1847] 281 
i ^2. william speiden to fremont, 4 feb. 1847 ^^4 
13:5. fremont to antonio jose cot, 4 feb. 1847 285 

I ^4. THEODORE TALBOT et al. TO FREMONT, 4 FEB. 1847 ^^7 

135. FREMONT TO LOUIS MC LANE, 5 FEB. 1847 ^9^ 

136. FREMONT TO JAMES BUCHANAN, 6 FEB. [ 1847] 292 


138. JUAN B. ALVARADO TO FREMONT, 10 FEB. 1847 297 
1:59. FREMONT TO WILL.ARD P. HALL, 1 1 FEB. 1847 3^^ 

140. JACOB R. SN'iT)ER TO EDWARD M. KERN, II FEB. 1847 302 





146. FREMONT TO JACOB R. SNYDER, 22 FEB. 1847 307 








2 MARCH 1847 3^7 



155- fremont to archibald h. gillespie, 5 march 1847 3^^ 

156. Fremont's circular, 9 march 1847 3^9 

157. philip st. george cooke to fremont, i4 march 1847 32o 

158. fremont to richard owens, i5 march 1847 3^0 

159. israel brockman to fremont, 1 5 march 1 847 322 

160. william h. russell to philip st. george cooke, 

16 MARCH 1847 323 






21 MARCH 1847 3^^ 


27 MARCH 1847 33° 















10 APRIL 1847 343 








187. FREMONT TO RICHARD B. MASON, 1 5 APRIL 1 847 349 


[APRIL 1847] 349 


23 APRIL 1847 350 




193. FREMONT TO RICHARD B. MASON, 22 MAY 1847 354 

194. ABEL STEARNS TO FREMONT, 23 MAY 1847 356 

195. RICHARD B. MASON TO FREMONT, 24 MAY 1847 357 



198. FREMONT TO J. J. ABERT, 29 MAY 1847 360 

199. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, II JUNE 1 847 360 







206. THOMAS H. BENTON TO FREMONT, 22 JUNE 1 847 370 

The Arrest and Court-Martial of Fremont 

FREMONT, 22 AUG. 1 847 375 




211. THOMAS H. BENTON TO F. R. CONWAY, 3 SEPT. 1847 379 

212. THOMAS H. BENTON TO JAMES K. POLK, 10 SEPT. 1847 380 

213. ALBERT GALLATIN TO FREMONT, 1 5 SEPT. 1 847 38 1 



216. FREMONT TO ROGER JONES, 20 SEPT. 1 847 3^0 





21 SEPT. 1847 390 

220. ROGER JONES TO FREMONT, 27 SEPT. 1 847 393 

221. FREMONT TO ROGER JONES, 27 SEPT. 1847 394 

222. WILLIAM L. MARCY TO FREMONT, 27 SEPT. 1 847 396 

223. FREMONT TO WILLIAM L. MARCY, 28 SEPT. 1847 397 





228. THOMAS H. BENTON TO FREMONT, | 8 OCT. 1847] 405 

229. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 8 OCT. 1 847 406 

230. J. J. ABERT TO FREMONT, 9 OCT. 1 847 406 





235. ROGER JONES TO FREMONT, 1 3 OCT. 1 847 426 





15 OCT. 1847 432 

240. WILLIAM L. MARCY TO FREMONT, 15 OCT. 1847 434 

241. THOMAS H. BENTON TO ROGER JONES, [25] OCT. 1847 435 


ROGER JONES, 25 OCT. 1 847 435 

243. ROGER JONES TO FREMONT, 26 OCT. 1847 444 

244. FREMONT TO ROGER JONES, 26 OCT. 1 847 444 


246. FREMONT TO JACOB R. SNYDER, 26 OCT. 1 847 448 

247. FREMONT TO ABEL STEARNS, 26 OCT. 1847 449 


WILLIAM C. JONES, 27 OCT. 1 847 451 


ROGER JONES, 27 OCT. 1847 453 


250. roger jones to thomas h. benton and 

william c. jones, 28 oct. 1 847 454 

251. fremont to john torrey, i nov. 1847 454 

252. thomas h. benton and william c. jones to 

roger jones, 3 nov. 1 847 455 

253. fremont to henry h. sibley, 5 nov. 1847 456 

254. roger jones to fremont, 6 nov. 1847 457 

255. thomas h. benton and william c. jones to 

roger jones, 9 nov. 1 847 457 

256. roger jones to fremont, 10 nov. 1847 458 

257. fremont to roger jones, ii nov. 1847 459 

258. roger jones to thomas h. benton and 

william c. jones, ii nov. 1847 459 

259. j. j. abert to fremont, 26 nov. 1 847 461 

260. thomas h. benton to roger jones, 24 dec. 1 847 462 

261. thomas h. benton to roger jones, 29 dec. 1 847 464 

262. thomas h. benton and william c. jones to 

roger jones, 6 jan. 1848 464 

263. Fremont's petition to congress, [27 jan. 1848] 466 

264. JOHN F. LEE TO ROGER JONES, I FEB. 1848 468 

265. Fremont's deposition, [5 feb. 1848] 469 

266. fremont to harris wilson, 8 feb. 1848 476 

267. thomas h. benton to james buchanan, [18 feb. 1848] 477 

268. fremont to roger jones, i9 feb. 1848 478 

269. fremont to john torrey, 24 feb. 1848 479 

270. fremont to john torrey, 24 feb. 1848 479 

271. fremont to james buchanan, i march 1848 480 

272. fremont to john torrey, 2 march 1848 481 

273. james buchanan to fremont, 2 march 1848 482 

274. fremont to lewis j. cist, 3 march 1 848 482 

275. fremont to james buchanan, 7 march 1848 483 

276. fremont to john torrey, 12 march 1848 483 

277. fremont to roger jones, i4 march 1848 486 

278. william g. freeman to fremont, 1 5 march 1 848 486 

Appendix: Roster of 1845-47 Expedition 487 

Bibliography 491 

Index 503 



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lAMm $aqt;js!Daj ^^ 


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«trm*'$ K«T AB<>UT X846 '"" 

MQNTEoRJEy ASQUT 1846 ^"^ 



fkImont's caufqrnia , iS^S fjf^i -po^ 236 









When John C. Fremont angrily resigned from the Army in the 
spring of 1848, telling botanist John Torrey that he hoped' the gov- 
ernment would continue to finance his scientific exploration even 
though he was now a civilian, he was looking back upon three years 
of tumult, intrigue, and bitterness. Those three years are spanned 
by the documents in this volume. 

The period 1845-48 seemed to bring into focus the restlessness 
of American emigrants, with Oregon, Texas, and the Mexican 
borderlands all added to the Union. For Fremont they were pivotal 
years. Once again he had turned his talents to the exploration of the 
Far West, this time mixing political activity with scientific observa- 
tion. His defiance of the military authority of Stephen Watts Kearny 
in California brought the exhausting experience of a court-martial, 
and later historians, among them Hubert Howe Bancroft and 
Bernard DeVoto, would label him a filibuster and adventurer, call- 
ing into question not onlv his conduct as an officer but also his 
character and honesty of purpose.^ Harvard historian and philoso- 
pher Josiah Royce cast no epithets, but he charged Fremont with 
bringing a needless war into California and creating an estrange- 
ment between Mexicans and Americans which all his subsequent 
generosity and kindness could not eradicate. "From the Bear Flag 
Affair," wrote Royce, "we can date the beginning of the degrada- 
tion, the ruin, and the oppression of the California people bv our 



It may be that publication of these documents, including the 
transcript of the long court-martial proceedings in a supplementary 
volume, will provide further insight into California affairs, although 
clear-cut answers do not always appear. There are knotty questions 
about secret instructions or lack of instructions. Many documents 

1 BANCROFT, 5:85-100; de voto, 197-201, 222-29. 470-77. 

2 ROYCE [1], 50-162 and particularly 111-12. 


have not survived; those which have are sometimes contradictory 
and, perhaps dehberately, obscure in wording. 

No one should try to understand the Cahfornia of 1845-48, and 
the men who played leading roles there, without a thorough reading 
of the court-martial proceedings. It is hard to escape the conclusion 
that some historians of the period have not done so. One can ad- 
mire Fremont's intrepidity as an explorer and his expertness as a 
geographer without particularly liking his ambition, his vanity, and 
his reliance upon his father-in-law for professional advancement. 
One can say, and many do, that John Charles and Jessie were a 
team of myth makers and empire builders. Yet the documents, 
when they are not aggravatingly silent, speak constantly to the 
point that in the California episode Fremont was as often right as 
wrong. And even a cursory investigation of the court-martial record 
produces one undeniable conclusion: neither side in the controversy 
acquitted itself with distinction. 

What is required first, for an understanding of the whole matter, 
is a glance at the mood of the country, at Fremont's orders, and at 
the nature of the third expedition itself. Early in 1845 Congress had 
voted to annex Texas, that vast domain seized from a weak Mexico 
by hardy American settlers. Already a handful of venturesome 
Americans had established themselves in California; thousands of 
pioneers were wheeling along the Oregon Trail toward the green 
Willamette Valley; soon the Mormon Saints would establish their 
new Zion in the Great Basin of Utah. 

Claimed by both the United States and England, the Oregon 
country had been opened to settlement under the 1827 Treaty of 
Joint Occupation, an extension of the earlier agreement of 1818. Not 
unexpectedly, American homeseekers won the battle of the census 
and soon came to predominate, their growing numbers along the 
Willamette demanding the establishment of a stable government by 
the United States. Although the British minister in Washington 
had rejected President James K. Polk's oflfer to divide the country 
at the forty-ninth parallel, Polk, in his annual message to Congress 
at the end of 1845, asked for power to abrogate the Treaty of Joint 
Occupation and extend protection of American law over settlers 
in the Oregon country. Not until June 1846 did the formal British 
oflfer to settle on the forty-ninth parallel reach Washington, but 
even this did not dispel all distrust of the British. Several months 
later Thomas Hart Benton received a letter from Fremont describ- 


ing an attack upon him in Oregon by Klamath Indians supphed 
with tomahawks and iron arrowheads by the British, and suggest- 
ing that Secretary of State James Buchanan's attention be called to 
the fact that the Indians were "friendly" to the English and "un- 
friendly" to the Americans. Fremont's letter in a sense typified the 
fear of Great Britain, which had smoldered since the days of the 
Revolution and the War of 1812 and which had been rekindled and 
fanned by events of the 1830s and 1840s. 

Had not England, for diplomatic, economic, and humanitarian 
reasons, flirted with an independent Texas ? Was it not a rumor — or 
more than a rumor — that Britain had designs on California? It is 
clear now that such a rumor was unfounded, for the British govern- 
ment steadfastly opposed expansion into California, partly because 
it feared war with the United States and partly because its "Little 
England" policy discouraged further expansion of the empire in 
that period. But it is what government officials believe that deter- 
mines action, and President Polk made his fear of the British occu- 
pation of California one of the cornerstones of his foreign policy. 

Yet his and the country's mood was more positive on the subject 
of California. If Polk had been elected on a platform calling for the 
"re-annexation of Texas and the re-occupation of Oregon," implicit 
was an observable if less blatant interest in the Pacific Coast south 
of the Oregon line. There the tallow and hide trade had diminished 
in importance, but not before its Yankee agents and shipmasters 
had helped focus American attention on the balmy climate and 
economic potential of California. Along with a handful of serious 
settlers and a variety of mere travelers, they gave broad publicity to 
this land where vast estates were available almost for a pittance and 
economic opportunity was unlimited. In response, a steady trickle of 
emigrants was coming overland in the early forties. By 1846 Larkin 
estimated that three-fourths of the 1,000 or 1,200 foreigners living 
in California were Americans. 

As these newcomers descended the western slopes of the Sierra, 
they could not fail to recognize the potential for political as well 
as material conquest. Through the years the native Californios had 
evolved their own pastoral and easy way of life — one indifferent to 
social change and disrespectful of a government administered from 
distant Mexico City. Distance and intermittent turmoil, both in the 
mother country and in California, made for near chaos during much 
of the 1830s. An able governor, Jose Figueroa, died in 1835, and then 


came a decade of internal strife typified by official corruption and 
petty revolt. When Governor Manuel Micheltorena and his tough 
cholo army were sent packing in 1845, all semblance of Mexican 
control went with them. Americans, not all men of impeccable 
motives, quickly grasped the implications. With a little effort, might 
not the Texas story be repeated on the shores of the Pacific ? Were 
not American frontiersmen destined to extend their brand of civili- 
zation from sea to sea, engulfing more static societies in the process ? 

Certainly President Polk was not averse, provided he had the 
majority of his constituents behind him. But he also saw the need 
to avoid open conflict with Mexico and not to alienate the pro- 
American faction of the Californios. His efforts to purchase Cali- 
fornia rebuffed before they had hardly commenced, he turned to 
intrigue, always with a wary eye on the British. Thus, at about the 
time of Fremont's departure from the Missouri frontier, Commo- 
dore John D. Sloat was instructed to seize San Francisco and other 
Pacific ports if he should determine "with certainty" that Mexico 
had declared war against the United States. In October of the same 
year Sloat was ordered to take control of California "in the event 
of actual hostilities" between the Mexican and American govern- 
ments, to communicate frequently with the U.S. consul at Monterey, 
and to divine as nearly as possible the designs of the English and 
the French in that region."^ On the same day that Sloat's October 
orders were cut, the U.S. consul at Monterey, Thomas Oliver Larkin, 
was appointed a confidential agent and instructed to "exert the 
greatest vigilance in discovering and defeating any attempts which 
may be made by Foreign Governments to acquire a control" over 
California. He would not attempt to make her a state, Buchanan 
informed Larkin, but "if the People should desire to unite their 
destiny with ours, they would be received as brethren, whenever 
this can be done, without affording Mexico just cause of com- 

In the written orders under which Fremont mounted his third 
expedition, no mention was made of his entering California. His 
instructions were, in fact, very narrow. The chief of the Bureau of 
Topographical Engineers directed him to "strike the Arkansas as 

•■* George Bancroft to John D. Sloat. 24 June and 17 Oct. 1845, cal. his. 
soc. DOCS., 2:164-65. 

^ Buchanan to Larkin, 17 Oct. 1845, larkin, 4:44-47. 


soon as practicable, survey the Red River vv^ithout our boundary 
line, noting particularly the navigable properties of each," and 
"determine as near as practicable the points at which the boundary 
line of the U.S. the 100th degree of longitude west of Greenwich 
strikes the Arkansas, and the Red River." It was important that the 
headwaters of the Arkansas be accurately determined, but long 
journeys should not be taken to determine isolated geographical 
points. In short, Fremont was to direct his efforts "to the geography 
of localities within reasonable distance of Bent's Fort and of the 
streams which run east from the Rocky Mountains." Later instruc- 
tions permitted him to increase the size of his party, to detach a 
subgroup to explore the southern Rockies, and to pay some atten- 
tion to the military aspects of the country. But a letter dated 14 
May 1845 may be taken as an indication that the chief of the Topo- 
graphical Bureau understood that Fremont's explorations would be 
more extensive than outlined by the official orders. He directed 
Fremont to have Lieut. James W. Abert return with his detachment 
to the United States as soon as practicable "in order that expenses 
of the expedition may be reduced, and funds be left to meet the 
events of your own efforts for more distant discoveries." 

But there is still no mention of California, and when Fremont 
wrote in his Memoirs that it was decided "to extend the survey west 
and southwest to the examination of the great ranges of the Cascade 
Mountains and the Sierra Nevada, so as to ascertain die lines of 
communication through the mountains to the ocean in that lati- 
tude," he was either recalling oral instructions or justifying a fait 
accompli. The former seems more likely.^ Officials registered no 
surprise when news reached Washington that Fremont was in Cali- 
fornia. In fact, a few days after the expedition left Westport on 26 
June, the Western Expositor, a newspaper published in Indepen- 
dence, Missouri, reported that the main division of the expedition 
under Fremont would winter among the American settlements of 
Upper California and would then "pass round by the lower route 
. . . crossing the Colorado below the 'great kennion,' and return 
to the Arkansas by the waters of the Gila and St. Juan. . . ." 
Upon reaching California, Fremont wrote his wife that he in- 

■'' Three letters of }. }. Abert to Fremont. 12 Feb., 10 April, and 14 May 
1845, in our \'ol. 1; excerpt from the Memoirs, as Doc. No. 1, this volume. 
^ Western Expositor as quoted by Missouri Republican, 21 July 1845. 


tended to "make a short journey up the eastern branch of the Sacra- 
mento, and go from the Tlamath [Klamath] Lake into the Wah- 
lamath | Willamette] valley, through a pass alluded to in my report; 
in this way making the road into Oregon far shorter, and a good 
road in place of the present very bad one down the Columbia. When 
I shall have made this short exploration, I shall have explored from 
the beginning to end this road to Oregon." Probably Fremont in- 
tended to return to California after the "short exploration" and go 
home by the southern route. He later said he had obtained permis- 
sion from the Mexican authorities not only to winter in the valley 
of the San Joaquin but "to continue his explorations south to the 
region of the Rio Colorado, and of the Rio Gila." After his initial 
difficulties with commanding general Jose Castro in California, he 
apparently gave up the idea of returning by the southern route, as 
perhaps outlined by his verbal instructions, for he wrote to Jessie, 
"Our government will not require me to return by the southern 
route against the will of this [the Mexican] government; I shall 
therefore return by the heads of the Missouri, going through a pass 
of which your father knows." 

The season was late for scientific exploring when Fremont, then 
a brevet captain, actually got the expedition under way from St. 
Louis. He had not been able to leave Washington until the middle 
of May, the delay caused by work on his "second report." That 
publication was to win him a secure place in the nation's history and, 
after his promotion, according to Mrs. Fremont, make him "the 
most talked of and admired lieutenant-colonel in the army." 

After reaching Bent's Fort in August 1845, Fremont detached 
part of his men under the command of Lieutenant Abert to move 
south into New Mexico through Raton Pass, then east through the 
Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma, following the course of the Cana- 
dian River to its confluence with the Arkansas at Fort Gibson. In 
the meantime, having been joined by Kit Carson, Richard Owens, 
and temporarily by mountain man Bill Williams, the main party 
ascended the Arkansas to its sources, crossed the Colorado River to 
the upper White (where Joseph R. Walker was added as a guide), 
and followed that down to the Green. Crossing the Green, the 
expedition proceeded west to Great Salt Lake and spent a number 
of days mapping the southern shore before undertaking the journey 
across the harsh Salt Desert. Water was scarce, but it was autumn, 
the party was mounted, some of its travel was at night, and it 


reached the spring at the base of Pilot's Peak without undue diffi- 
culty. After a day's rest the men took up their march again on 1 
November and wound their way westward through the short ranges 
of the Great Basin, arriving at Mound Springs on 5 November. To 
gain the maximum amount of cartographical information before 
snow blocked the passes in the Sierra, Fremont there divided his 
party. He took fifteen men across Nevada on a diagonal line; the 
larger group, commanded by Theodore Talbot, guided by Walker, 
and including topographer Edward M. Kern, he sent due west to 
the Humboldt with instructions to follow that stream to its "sink." 
They were then to turn south to reach the designated reunion point. 
Walker Lake, at the eastern base of the Sierra. 

When this rendezvous was made, Fremont divided the party 
again, and with fifteen men he rode north to cross the mountains 
via Donner Pass, reaching Sutter's Fort on 10 December. Gathering 
supplies, he started southward on 13 December to meet the other 
division of his party, which was to enter the San Joaquin Valley by 
way of Walker Pass and wait for him on Kings River. But this 
Talbot-Walker-Kern detachment mistakenly camped and waited on 
the Kern, and so Fremont, unable to locate them, returned to Sut- 
ter's. It was not until mid-February that the entire party of approxi- 
mately sixty men, many of whom had been with him on former 
expeditions, reunited at William Fisher's Laguna farm, thirteen 
miles south of Pueblo de San Jose. 

In the meantime Fremont had obtained passports from Sutter 
for himself and eight of his men and had gone to Yerba Buena, 
where he was entertained by William Leidesdorff, the American 
vice-consul. Leidesdorff accompanied him to Monterey to visit with 
Consul Larkin, with whom Fremont undoubtedly discussed the 
political situation in California and the increasing tide of American 
emigration. He personally called upon the Mexican commanding 
general to explain that he was engaged in surveying the nearest 
route from the United States to the Pacific Ocean, and that members 
of his party were citizens, not soldiers.' The British consul formally 

"^ Fremont may have even written a letter to inform General Castro of his 
motives in coming to California. Such a letter has never been found, but to 
a copy of his own letter to the prefect of the Second District Larkin has added 
a note: "The General was at his own request officially informed by Captain 
Fremont of his motives in coming here, which motives were accepted by 


protested Fremont's presence in California to the secretary of the 
departmental government. This may have inspired an inquiry from 
the prefect about the object of Fremont's mission, to which Larkin 
replied that the explorer, who had left his men on the frontiers of 
the Second Department, had come "to Monterey to obtain clothing, 
and funds to purchase animals and provisions, and when his men 
are recruited, intends to continue his journey to the Oregon Terri- 
tory."^ The impression was certainly given by the consul that the 
men were to winter and recoup on the frontiers. Fremont seems 
likewise to have given that impression to the Mexican authorities. 

Once the men reunited near Pueblo de San Jose, Fremont re- 
sumed the work of the expedition — moving toward the towns and 
coast — apparently waiting on the season for operations in the north. 
He was encamped at William E. P. Hartnell's rancho, about twenty- 
five miles from Monterey, when on 5 March General Castro pe- 
remptorily ordered him to leave the department. Instead of comply- 
ing, Fremont retired to a peak in the Gabilan Mountains and erected 
a log fort with the intention of fighting to the last man if attacked — 
or so he wrote Larkin. Below, at the Mission San Juan Bautista, the 
Mexicans began mustering and preparing artillery for an assault. 
Realizing that conflict would cause trouble for resident Americans 
as well as interrupt business, Larkin suggested that if it were in- 
convenient for Fremont to leave California, he come to an arrange- 
ment with the general and prefect to continue his camp "at some 
greater distance." "Your camping so near Town has caused much 
excitement." The consul also wrote "To the Commander of any 
American Ship of War in San Bias or Mazatlan" requesting that a 
sloop of war be sent to Monterey. He said he was informed by Gen- 
eral Castro that positive orders had been received from Mexico to 
drive Fremont from the country.^ Fremont found it prudent and 
convenient to withdraw to the north. 

On 17 April Archibald H. Gillespie arrived in Monterey harbor. 
Next day he delivered to Larkin the Secretary of State's 17 October 

Gen. Castro in not answering the letter" (larkin, 4:186-87). Most historians 
have considered both the application and the permission to be oral. For an 
example, see royce [1], 115. 

^PosNER, 107-8; Larkin to Manuel de Jesus Castro, 29 Jan. 1846, larkin, 
4:186-87. Later the British Foreign Office rebuked James A. Forbes for his 
formal protest against Fremont's entry into California. 

^Letter dated 9 March 1846, larkin, 4:243-44. 


1845 dispatch, which he had committed to memory and destroyed 
before reaching Vera Cruz but now wrote out again. By this dis- 
patch Larkin was appointed a "Confidential Agent in California" 
and was informed that Gillespie, in whom the president placed "en- 
tire confidence," was to cooperate as a confidential agent to help 
Larkin carry out his instructions. 

President Polk had confidentially instructed Gillespie about his 
mission to California on 30 October 1845, a few days after an inter- 
view in which he attempted to secure Senator Benton's support for 
his Oregon policy. During the Polk-Benton interview the conver- 
sation turned to the subject of Fremont's presence in California.^" 
A few days later, and evidently after some discussion with Secretary 
of State Buchanan, Benton wrote a letter to his son-in-law and in- 
cluded the packet of family letters which the State Department 
decided to have Gillespie carry to California.^^ 

Gillespie, dubbed by Marti as the "Messenger of Destiny," did 
not stay long in Monterey but hurried on to San Francisco with a 
note from Larkin introducing him to Leidesdorfif as "a Gendeman 
well worthy of Attention."^" While there he received from the 
hands of a hard-riding courier a dispatch from Larkin dated 23 
April, stating that Capt. John B. Montgomery of the Portsmouth 
had arrived at Monterey and was of the opinion that Commodore 
Sloat "may by the next mail (Six or eight days) have a declaration 
on the part of the United States against Mexico in which case, we 
shall see him in a few days to take the Country." The letter also 
contained an expression of the consul's opinion to prominent Cali- 
fornians, Castro and Mariano G. Vallejo among them, that the U.S. 
flag might fly in California in thirty days. "The former says, for 
his own plans. War is preferable to peace, as by War, affairs will 

1" POLK, 1:67-72, 83-84. 

'^ Since most of the Benton family letters carried to California by Gillespie 
had originally been designated for the regular mails across Mexico, the his- 
torian John A. Hussey concludes that they could have contained no secret 
instructions for Fremont (hussey [3]). However, many confidential letters 
were sent through the regular mails in care of mercantile firms. Gillespie 
sent his dispatches to the Secretary of the Navy in such a manner, and Com- 
modore Sloat specifically requested that the Navy Department fold dispatches 
like ordinary mercantile letters, enclose them in a non-yellow envelope, and 
send them to a mercantile firm in Mazatlan (Sloat to Bancroft, 6 May 1846, 
DNA-45, Pacific Squadron, Commodore Sloat's Cruise, 1844-46). 

^2 Larkin to Leidesdorff, 19 April 1846, hawgood [1], 54. 


at once be brought to a close, and each one know his doom. I 
[Larkin] answered, without War he could make certain Officers 
and secure to himself, and his friends, fame, honour, permanent 
employ and pay." The Oregon question, Larkin wrote, was unset- 
tled, and Commodore Robert F. Stockton had not arrived.^^ While 
Gillespie was at Yerba Buena, the captain of the port was heard to 
say that the subprefect had received a courier on 24 April advising 
him of the expected war with Mexico. LeidesdorfT and Gillespie 
shared information, and the vice-consul considered the rumors of 
war as "glorious news for Capt. Freemont."^^ 

Gillespie dashed on to Sutter's Fort and 500 miles farther into 
the Oregon wilderness in pursuit of Fremont. What was his mis- 
sion.'^ To deliver a common letter of introduction and a packet of 
family letters ? To obtain further information on conditions in Cali- 
fornia ? To recall Fremont to California ? Hardly the first or second. 
Letters could have been forwarded by a courier; Larkin, LeidesdorfT, 
and others were better informed about intrigues, politics, and possi- 
ble change in California than was Fremont. 

In the spring of 1846 the general impression among Californians 
and American settlers on the Sacramento was that Gillespie had 
gone to Oregon to recall Fremont. Two months after that dramatic 
meeting in Oregon, Talbot wrote his mother, "About the 25th of 
April we started for Oregon, but had only reached the Klamet Lake 
when Lt. Gillespie of the U.S. Marines overtook us with orders 
directly from the United States for us to return to California."^^ 
This may have been what Fremont told his men. Yet in a letter 
written to Benton at the same time, Fremont implied that his return 
to the Sacramento was purely voluntary — prompted in part by 
snow in the mountains. Curiously there had been no mention of 
snow in an earlier letter to Benton. 

It seems evident that President Polk wanted Fremont in Cali- 
fornia. A garrison would be needed even if Larkin were able to 
work out a program for the peaceful takeover of the country. Or, 
if hostilities came and the Navy took the ports, a small army would 
be an asset in holding fast. It is entirely possible that Polk verbally 
and confidentially instructed Gillespie to order Fremont and his 

1-^ Larkin to Gillespie. 23 April 1846, larkin. 4:340-41, 
^■* Leidesdorflf to Larkin. 25 April 1846. larkin. 4:348. 
15 Letter dated 24 July 1846 (DLC— Talbot Papers). 


armed voyageurs to be on hand in California to help seize it when 
news of American hostilities arrived. Historian Richard Stenberg 
goes even furdier and insists that in view of his disingenuous and 
aggressive policy toward Mexico, it would not have been out of 
character for Polk to have given Fremont, through Gillespie, "en- 
couraging discretionary authority covertly to incite the Americans 
in California to revolt or to provoke the Mexican authorities to 
attack him, acting in this as though on his own authority and care- 
fully concealing Polk's hand."^^ Stenberg does not even accept 
Polk's denial in his diary in 1848 that "Col. Fremont had the author- 
ity to make the revolution,"" and Glenn W. Price's study of the 
Polk-Stockton intrigue in Texas would tend to support Stenberg's 
charge that Polk was often insincere.^^ 

Less than a month after the return of the Army and Marine offi- 
cers to the Sacramento Valley, the Bear Flag Revolt was in full 
swing. Undoubtedly emboldened by Fremont's presence, some of 
the rough and ready members of the aguardiente set saw themselves 
cast in the role of American patriots and were impelled to drastic 
action, to the distress of more substantial men like Larkin and 
Sutter. Early in June 1846, under Ezekiel Merritt, this group stole 
a large band of horses belonging to the Mexican army and then, 
with Merritt and William B. Ide leading the way, captured Mariano 
G. Vallejo's Sonoma garrison and raised the Bear Flag over the new 
"California Republic." Undoubtedly neither the Bear Flaggers nor 
the Californios against whom they directed their uprising knew 
that since 13 May an official state of war had existed between Mex- 
ico and the United States — a long-smoldering affair touched into 
flame by events along the Rio Grande. 

Both Fremont and Gillespie were being credited by Californians 
as well as Americans with "springing" the Bear Flag Revolt and 
"fanning it on in a private manner."^^ Fremont wrote Benton that 
on 6 June he had made his decision about the course he would pur- 
sue and had immediately coordinated his operations with the "for- 
eigners" inhabiting the valley. Even earlier — on 24 May — Gillespie 
had written Larkin: "I send this message to get such news as you 

^^ STENBERG, 219. 

1^ POLK, 3:395. 
^^ See PRICE. 

i** Larkin to Buchanan, 18 June 1846, 30 lune and 25 Aug. 1847, larkin, 
5:41-44, 6:225-27, 291-92. 


have & to give us some information in relation to the vessels of war 
— where they are & whether the Congress [with Stockton] has 
arrived.""*' Fremont is obviously included in the "us," and even at 
this early date the officers seem to have decided upon their course 
of action. Statements of peaceful intent and plans to return at once 
to the United States that appear in various letters to and from Fre- 
mont in May and June are likely mere facade. Some historians do 
believe that Fremont may have been included in Polk's program for 
California but had no secret instructions to start a revolution.^^ 
Possibly he assumed a role for himself. George Tays concludes that 
after his return to Sutter's Fort, Fremont decided to revenge himself 
for the Gabilan incident, and in a real sense the explorer's 25 July 
letter lends color to this charge. And historians have interpreted 
(but erroneously) a spring 1847 letter by his wife as asserting that 
Fremont was revenging a personal insult.^" Although a bold and 
cool man, would he have dared to act so rashly merely to satisfy 
an injury to his vanity without some intimation from his govern- 
ment that such action was desirable or at least tolerable? 

Another writer on California affairs, Ernest A. Wiltsee, thinks 
that the Polk administration wanted an undercover revolt to prevent 
a foreign fleet from landing and taking possession before American 
naval commanders could act.^^ In fact, Commodore Sloat was slow 
to raise the flag in California and probably did so only because of 
the Bear Flag Revolt and Fremont's successful operations on shore. 
On 31 May 1846 Sloat had received word of American victories at 
Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, and on 5 June of the capture of 
Matamoros. Even so, he still did not feel justified under his existing 
orders in taking possession of any part of California. Not until 7 
June, after receiving word of the blockade of the east coast of Mex- 
ico, did he leave Mazatlan in the Savannah, reaching Monterey on 
2 July. Although briefed by Larkin, he did not formulate a final plan 

20 LARKIN, 4:393-94. 

2^ HUSSEY [3]; TAYS [2]. 

-2 Jessie B. Fremont had letters from her husband dated as late as 1 Oct. 
1846, when she assured botanist John Torrey that her husband had no sym- 
pathy for the Mexican War. "Fighting is not his aim," she added, "& though 
he threw all his energy into the aflfair last July & August yet it was as if 
revenging a private insult for he knew nothing of the war" (21 March 1847, 
NNNBG — Torrey Correspondence). 

2^ WILTSEE [2]. 


of action until 5 July, when the Portsmouth's, launch brought letters 
from Montgomery to Larkin and William Mervine, commander 
of the Cyane, detailing Fremont's action in conjunction with the 
Bears. Certainly Sloat had been in no hurry to seize California and 
would later be reprimanded by the Secretary of the Navy for his 


Unfortunately, Benton's "somewhat enigmatical" letter to Fre- 
mont, bearing the late October 1845 date, has never been found. He 
refered to it in a letter to Buchanan in July 1848 and, some seven 
years later at Fremont's request, stated positively that "to save the 
administration from responsibility for what might happen, I [Ben- 
ton], at their request, wrote the letter on which he [Fremont] 
acted. "^^ Fremont was still trying to obtain reimbursements for his 
California expenditures, and in support of his application he made a 
statement of his comprehension of the communications brought by 

Taken together, the character of these dispatches & the place and cir- 
cumstances of their delivery answered to me for positive instructions 
from the head of the government & was received by me with the most 
unbounded satisfaction. I prepared to execute them entirely as a matter 
of course & determined to give them their broadest interpretation & to 
put to the fullest use every means in my power — men, money & arms — in 
securing to our country the territory of California, and while I regarded 
this communication to differ in nothing but its secret nature from regular 
instructions, I comprehended that I was expected to act as upon my own 
responsibility, leaving to the government to support me in such way & at 
such time as might be judged expedient. It is very probable that in the 
freedom of such responsibility I did more, & more promptly, than had 
been expected.^** 

In 1848 in his deposition before a subcommittee of the Military 
Affairs Committee of the Senate, he had been more restrained, al- 
though his pecuniary interest was still there. "This officer [Gillespie] 

2^ Bancroft to Sloat, 13 Aug. 1846, Calijornui Chiims, Senate Report 75, 
p. 71, 30th Cong., 1st sess.. Serial 512. 

2^ Benton to Buchanan, 15 July 1848 (PHi — Buchanan Papers); statement 
of Benton. 30 July 1855 (KyLoF — James Guthrie Papers). To Buchanan 
Benton had written, "My letter which accompanied yours, and what was 
said to Mr. Larkin (in the like case) led him to believe that he was to be 
liberal as well as active, discreet and zealous in accomplishing a great object." 

-"Fremont's description of his California expedition, 1845 (KyLoF — 
Ciuthrie Papers). 


informed me that he had been directed by the Secretary of State to 
find me, and to acquaint me with his instructions, which had for 
their principal objects to ascertain the disposition of the Cahfornian 
people, to conciliate their feelings in favor of the United States, and 
to find out, with a design of counteracting, the designs of the British 
government upon that country." Gillespie testified that he had 
shown Fremont a copy of Buchanan's 17 October dispatch to Lar- 
kin.^^ Gillespie likewise testified that when questioned by Commo- 
dore Sloat in the harbor of Monterey by what authority he was 
acting, Fremont replied that he had "acted upon his own authority, 
and not from orders of the government," which is what he had 
intimated to Benton in the 25 July 1846 letter. However, in July 
1848 Benton wrote the Secretary of State seeking compensation from 
the contingent Foreign Intercourse Fund for Fremont because of 
his services in California. Buchanan indicated that he could not 
legally reimburse Fremont from that source and suggested an appli- 
cation to Congress — whereupon Benton and Fremont dropped the 
whole subject, apparently unwilling to lend support to the charge 
that he had been sent by the government to excite revolt in Cali- 
fornia in time of peace.^^ 

The other major incident of Fremont's California venture of 
1845-47, one that made him a still more controversial figure, was 
his refusal as lieutenant colonel to obey an order issued by his al- 
leged superior officer, Brig. Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny. This quar- 
rel also involved Commodore Robert F. Stockton, and for an 
understanding of its nature, at least a brief sketch of the conquest 
of California is essential (though the documents themselves provide 
richer detail). 

The Stars and Stripes replaced the Bear Flag at Sonoma on 9 July 
1846, and the three-week-old "Young California""^ came to an end. 
On the invitation of Sloat, Fremont moved from Sutter's Fort to 
cooperate with the naval forces in holding the country already con- 
quered and in chastising the Indians. Soon after his arrival Sloat 
resigned, and the peppery Stockton took command of the American 
naval forces in the Pacific. Stockton launched a vigorous campaign 

^"^ California Claims, Senate Report 75, p. 33. 

28 Benton to Buchanan, 15 and 20 July 1848 (PHi — Buchanan Papers). 
-^ LeidesdorfT's expression; see his 19 June 1846 letter to Larkin in larkin, 


to establish control over southern California. Fremont's battalion 
was taken into naval service, Fremont receiving an appointment as 
commander with the rank of major, and Gillespie a captaincy. 
Stockton likewise issued commissions to other officers of the bat- 
talion and sent Fremont south to San Diego, while he and Larkin, 
who still hoped to win over the Californians by peaceful means, 
sailed for San Pedro, the port for Los Angeles. There, disheartened 
by their failures to organize first an effective force of resistance and 
then a truce, Governor Pio Pico and General Castro fled the capital 
rather than surrender, and American forces joined to enter the City 
of the Angels unopposed. 

Stockton wrote President Polk and the Secretary of the Navy that 
as soon as he could "safely do so," he would appoint Fremont gover- 
nor and Gillespie secretary of the conquered territory. Such inten- 
tions were also communicated to Fremont, whom he appointed 
military commandant. 

Early in September Stockton sailed north to Monterey and San 
Francisco. A few days later Fremont went by land to the Sacra- 
mento to augment the strength of the California Battalion and to 
recruit a thousand men for Stockton, who had visions of landing 
troops at Acapulco and marching overland to clasp hands with Gen. 
Zachary Taylor at the gates of Mexico City. Gillespie was left with 
fifty men to garrison Los Angeles, but scarcely two weeks after 
Fremont's departure the Angeleiios rose in rebellion and forced 
Gillespie to withdraw from the city and embark on the merchant 
ship Vafidalia in San Pedro harbor. 

When Stockton heard of the disaster, he recalled Fremont from 
the Sacramento, sent Mervine south on the U.S.S. Savannah to give 
aid, and soon sailed himself on the Congress. Gillespie and Mervine 
rallied for an attack on Los Angeles but were repulsed, and even 
the arrival of Stockton made little difference in the military situa- 
tion. All of southern California slipped back into the hands of the 
Californians. The Americans were able to reoccupy San Diego, but 
it was some time before they dislodged the Mexicans from the hill- 
tops and procured the cattle and horses necessary to equip a land 
force to march against Los Angeles. 

In the meantime Fremont and his force had boarded the Sterling 
with the intention of supporting Stockton in the south, but they 
learned from a passing vessel that the Californians had driven the 
stock into the interior. Without horses, Fremont hesitated. Then, 


using the discretionary authority Stockton had given him, he hauled 
back to Monterey, there to gather supphes and men, sending agents 
to the Sacramento to recruit newly arrived emigrants and even 

At the end of November his battalion took up the line of march 
for Los Angeles. A few days later the conqueror of New Mexico, 
Stephen Watts Kearny, entered California from the east at the head 
of approximately a hundred dragoons. He had sent the major part 
of his Army of the West back to Santa Fe after getting word from 
Kit Carson near Socorro on the Rio Grande that the fighting in 
California was over. He must also have learned at this time that 
Fremont was to be governor of California.^*^ Kearny came with 
orders issued in June, authorizing him to establish temporary civil 
governments over areas his army conquered in New Mexico and 
California and giving him command of volunteers sent to or orga- 
nized in California. But as he neared Warner's rancho, he became 
aware of the precarious conditions in California. He dispatched an 
English rancher, Edward Stokes, to San Diego with a message for 
Stockton, who responded by sending reinforcements under Gilles- 
pie. These reached him on 5 December, and on the following morn- 
ing in a cold rain, Kearny's tired, poorly organized force attacked 
at the Indian pueblo of San Pasqual and were defeated by the Cali- 
fornians, who not only outmanuevered the Americans but were 
devastating in the use of their long, deadly lances. Kearny imme- 
diately appealed to San Diego for aid, then moved to a more defen- 
sible position ten miles away. Only after a second plea to Stockton 
did a large relief party arrive before dawn on 11 December .'^^ 

^" Under date of 6 Oct. 1846, Capt. Abraham R. Johnston recorded in his 
journal the meeting of Kearny's forces with Carson and mentioned the proba- 
bility that Fremont was military and civil governor of California (House 
Exec. Doc. 41, p. 572, 30th Cong., 1st sess., Serial 517). William H. Emory, 
another officer with Kearny, made no mention of Fremont in his journal, and 
Benton charged that Emory expunged and rewrote his journal after Kearny's 
controversy with Fremont over the governorship. 

^^ Kearny's supporters maintained that Stockton rejected the first appeal 
for aid, which was carried into San Diego by Alexander Godey, Thomas H. 
Burgess, and another. As the party returned to Kearny on Mule Hill, it was 
captured by the Californians but presumably was able to cache Stockton's 
letter in a tree. Later the Kearny forces exchanged a Mexican prisoner for 
Burgess, who reported that the commodore had refused to send reinforcements 


Later, in his court-martial defense, Fremont would make much 
of Kearny's inability to move into San Diego without aid from 
Stockton. Kearny came not to conquer but to secure the fruits of 
conquest after others had done the work, insisted Fremont. Since 
he had been unable to take over California, his instructions from the 
Secretary of War were no longer applicable. Others conversant with 
the history of the war would sustain this view. A naval chaplain, 
one of the editors of the Californiafi, could write, "It is requiring too 
much of us ... to claim our assent to the allegation that California 
has been conquered through the achievements of the army."^" 

Soon after Kearny reached San Diego, the sparring for supremacy 
of command commenced, although, in the joint expedition mounted 
against Los Angeles, Stockton seems to have been in general com- 
mand with Kearny acting as his aide and commanding troops in 
the field. From the Mission San Juan Capistrano on 5 January 
Stockton issued a proclamation offering a general amnesty to all 
Californians except the leader of the revolt, Jose Maria Flores, on 
condition that he be given up as a prisoner. The Californians would 
not negotiate on these terms, lost the two battles of San Gabriel and 
the Mesa, and, after Flores had fled, turned north and surrendered 
to Fremont at the Mission San Fernando. Although he undoubtedly 
knew of the presence of his superior officer a few miles away at 
Los Angeles, Fremont granted generous terms and sent the treaty 
to Stockton by his aide William H. Russell, whom he also instructed 
to inquire carefully about who was in command in Los Angeles.^^ 
Russell reported that although Kearny seemed to be the better friend 
to the young explorer, Stockton was exercising the functions of civil 
and military governor, and that the general's having discharged 

(griffin [1]. 21:337). Stockton, Fremont, and their supporters denied this 
violently, Stockton insisting that as soon as the Godey party had arrived in 
San Diego, preparations were immediately begun to send a party to relieve 
Kearny. The cached letter was not found by Kearny's men and may have 
been taken by Gen. Andres Pico's California force (clarke, 225). 

•^2coLToN, 17 July 1847. 

■"^•"^ BANCROFT, 5:387. The assistant surgeon with Kearny's dragoons, John S. 
CjrifJin, wrote in his diary, "The fact is, it is said that the Californians would 
not have negociated with Stockton on any terms, in consequence of the procla- 
mation he sent them from the Mission of St. John's." He also noted, "We 
took the wind out of Fremonts sails by capturing the Puehla — and whipping 
the enemy on the 8th and 9th, but he has shown himself the better politician 
by negociating first with the enemy" (griffin [1], 22:44). 


certain duties implied an acknowledgment of the commodore's su- 

When Fremont entered Los Angeles, he went first to the quarters 
assigned to him by Stockton, then reported in person to Stockton, 
and afterward called on Kearny. Within two days of Fremont's 
arrival the conflict between the Army and the Navy over the inter- 
pretation of instructions from their respective departments came out 
into the open. Kearny considered Fremont's 13 January 1847 letter 
a report of the California Battalion to him, but at the court-martial 
Fremont contended the letter was written after receiving four 
friendly letters from Kearny. The general ordered that no change 
be made in the organization of the California Battalion without his 
approval and objected to Stockton's proposed institution of a civil 
government in California. Stockton responded by reiterating that 
Kearny's instructions had been negated by events before his arrival, 
intimated that he would ask the president for his recall, and sus- 
pended Kearny from command of the U.S. forces in Los Angeles 
other than the dragoons. On his part, Fremont refused to acknowl- 
edge the general's authority over him; noted that until Kearny and 
Stockton adjusted between themselves the question of rank, he 
would have "to report and receive orders, as heretofore, from the 
Commodore"; and accepted Stockton's commission as governor. At 
his court-martial he maintained that the question of rank between 
Stockton and Kearny was being tried in his person. 

Kearny left Los Angeles on 18 January, having informed Stockton 
that he "would remain silent for the present" in order to prevent 
"collision between us & possibly civil war in consequence of it," 
leaving with the commodore the "great responsibility" of doing 
that for which he had no authority. At this time, despite his conten- 
tions, Kearny seems to have had real doubts about his own authority. 
In the cabinet consideration of the case following Fremont's court- 
martial, Secretary of State Buchanan would apply the word "pusil- 
lanimity" to Kearny, noting that "if he believed he had the author- 
ity, he yielded it to Com. Stockton & did not enforce it." To this 
the Secretary of War took exception and said that since Kearny had 
not the troops to command obedience, "he had acted with great 
forbearance & propriety."^"* The Mormon Battalion, 350 strong, ar- 

34 POLK, 3:336-38. 


rived in California before Kearny left San Diego, but apparently the 
general did not seriously consider using the weary soldiers to force 
Fremont's obedience. 

Stockton likewise left Los Angeles, and Fremont remained in 
relatively unperturbed governorship for several weeks, although lack 
of money was a recurring problem. On his way to San Francisco 
Kearny consulted with Commodore W. Branford Shubrick in Mon- 
terey and became aware of the Navy Department's 12 July instruc- 
tions directing Sloat, or his successor, to organize a civil government 
when California was conquered. Although both Stockton and Fre- 
mont were unaware of these instructions when they defied Kearny 
in Los Angeles, they nevertheless bear out the explorer's contention 
in his court-martial that Washington had sent faulty orders. These 
12 July instructions placing the civil administration in the hands of 
the naval commander postdated Kearny's own instructions, but 
Shubrick made no attempt to exercise any civil authority, and he 
and Kearny decided to await more explicit instructions from Wash- 
ington. These arrived in San Francisco on 13 February — the very 
day Kearny's ship entered the bay. By a letter from Gen. Winfield 
Scott and a copy of a letter from the Secretary of the Navy, Kearny 
learned that the president wanted the supreme army authority to 
exercise the administrative functions of government. His uncertainty 
over his authority was ended, but he had not the grace to communi- 
cate these instructions to Fremont. However, in a letter to Fremont 
asking that the naval officers serving with the California Battalion 
be returned to the squadron, Shubrick wrote that he was instructed 
that Kearny was the commanding officer and invested with the 
administrative functions of government over the people and the 

When Kearny returned to Monterey, he sent his adjutant south 
with orders for Fremont to muster the California volunteers into 
the service of the United States and to bring the archives to Mon- 
terey. The battalion was at San Gabriel. Perhaps hoping that still 
later instructions and presidential approval of his appointment as 
governor would reach California, Fremont unwisely delayed. His 
secretary of state, William H. Russell, wrote to Philip St. George 
Cooke, whom Kearny had made commander in the Southern Dis- 
trict, that the men refused to be mustered into service and that the 
governor deemed it unsafe to disband them, since rumors were rife 
of a threatened insurrection. Giving orders to Richard Owens not 


to surrender the arms and munitions to any corps, Fremont made 
a sensational ride to Monterey to see Kearny, allegedly to warn of 
impending trouble in the south and to see if Kearny would assume 
the debts Fremont had incurred as governor. But Kearny testified 
at the court-martial that he never knew the object of Fremont's 
visit and that it had been the cause of some speculation among 
others. The interview only added fuel to the fire of their controversy, 
though Fremont did agree to obey Kearny's orders. His wish to 
resign from the Army was summarily rejected. 

Soon after Fremont departed to implement orders. Col. Richard 
B. Mason — who was to succeed Kearny as military governor of 
California — was sent south to inspect the troops and to give further 
instructions to Fremont. From the outset relations between the two 
officers were strained, and they ended with Fremont challenging 
the conservative Virginian to a duel. On Mason's request it was post- 
poned until the officers could reach Monterey. In the interval 
Kearny and Commodore James Biddle learned of the impending 
afifair of honor; the former forbade it, and the latter pled with 
Mason for a postponement, all of which caused Benton to charge 
later that Kearny and Biddle had conspired to extricate Mason from 
a difficult situation. The spectacle of an internecine fight between 
high-ranking Army officers, one of whom was a former governor 
and one of whom was to be governor, would have done nothing to 
promote U.S. interests in California. 

After completing his military duties in the south, Fremont lin- 
gered on in Los Angeles. Kearny arrived there on 10 May, and the 
explorer requested permission to take a party of men to Mexico to 
join his regiment. Kearny had informed Fremont early in March 
that he was at liberty to leave California as soon as he had complied 
with orders, since the general-in-chief of the Army had directed 
that he not be detained against his wishes "a moment longer than 
the necessities of the service may require." Kearny refused this re- 
quest and three subsequent applications by Fremont to leave the 
party and journey home. Obviously Fremont's conduct since March 
had so irritated the general that he had reverted to an earlier deci- 
sion, made in January, to place him under arrest at a feasible time. 

Kearny reviewed the troops in Monterey and ordered Fremont to 
surrender the topographical instruments. Fremont would later 
imply that it had been Kearny's intention to stop his topographical 
pursuits by requiring that he turn over his surveying instruments, 


but it is doubtful that the explorer, so agitated by his own problems, 
would have been able to accomplish much in the scientific field. 
One geographer indicts him for not being able to give Charles 
Preuss more constructive ideas about the country he crossed on the 
homeward journey in 1847, but he cites it as an example of Fre- 
mont's dependence upon his topographers.'^^ On 31 May the march 
for home began via the Sacramento. In time the party passed the 
scene of the Donner tragedy of the preceding winter, and Kearny 
ordered Maj. Thomas Swords to bury the grisly remains.^^ 

Long before Kearny and Fremont reached St. Louis, Lieut. Wil- 
liam H. Emory had arrived in Washington with Kearny's version 
of his conflict with Stockton and Fremont; the Carson-Talbot- 
Beale party and William H. Russell brought the Fremont version. 
Benton was enraged by the appearance in the newspapers of letters 
and articles containing such statements as: "Com. Stockton's des- 
patches are full of false representations," Kearny "routed the enemy 
[at San Pasqual], and chased him some miles," "Stockton rudely 
refused to grant his [Kearny's] requisition [for horses and men]," 
"General Kearny commanded the troops in both battles [8 and 9 
January]," "After the battle of the 9th January, Andreas Pico . . . 
having twice broken his parole, and expecting no quarter from 
General Kearny, went off with a small portion of the enemy's 
force and effected a treaty with Colonel Fremont, securing to him- 
self immunity from his crimes," and "Col. Fremont, angry that his 
request [for the governorship] was not at once complied with, with- 
drew his troops from Gen. Kearny's command without authority, 
went to Com. Stockton, and solicited from him the appointment of 

Benton attributed many of these statements to Emory, whom he 
charged had been sent home to "magnify Kearny and the Army of 
the West as the conqueror of California," "to deny and face down 
the truth" about the defeat at San Pasqual, and "to vilify and under- 
mine the reputations" of Stockton and Fremont. He demanded of 
the Adjutant General that Fremont be recalled and tried by court- 
martial to clear his name, if he were not already ordered home for 
arrest and trial. After Fremont's arrival Benton urged President 

•^■^ C. I. WHEAT, 3:58. 

^^ TURNER, 129. There were claims later that Fremont — not Kearny — had 
taken the trouble to collect and bury the bodies. 


Polk to order either a court of inquiry or a court-martial, not only 
for Fremont's sake but also so that the government might be fully 
informed about what had happened in California. The irate senator 
was determined that his son-in-law be tried not eventually on 
Kearny's charge of mutiny and documents alone but immediately 
on all the unofficial charges and insinuations against him, even in 
newspapers if he could manage to have them included, but in this 
he was unsuccessful. President Polk hoped to avoid a court-martial, 
but Benton was determined to see his son-in-law "justified and 
exalted" and his persecutors "covered with shame and confusion." 
Months later, as Fremont's trial neared an end, his first benefactor, 
Joel R. Poinsett, noted that Fremont's "scrape" would do him little 
harm and that Kearny had been "inconsistent" in his accounts of the 
interviews with Fremont, but the former Secretary of War felt that 
Fremont would have fared better had not his counsel tried to 
glorify his services.^^ 

Given wide coverage by the press, the trial commenced on 2 
November at the Washington Arsenal in the District of Columbia. 
The charges were mutiny, with eleven specifications; disobedience 
of the lawful command of his superior officer, with seven specifi- 
cations; and conduct to the prejudice of good order and military 
discipline, with five specifications. And many of the same specifica- 
tions were used to support the three different offenses against the 
military code, a proceeding which Fremont thought was highly 

As Kearny was chief witness for the prosecution, Fremont 
attempted to show the vindictive temper of the general toward him, 
to impeach his motives, to exhibit his defective and equivocating 
memory, and to discredit him as a witness before the court. Impar- 
tial observers might agree that he succeeded to a remarkable degree, 
but in the judgment of the court Kearny's honor and character re- 
mained "unimpeached." The tactic of trying to discredit the witness 
permitted the defense a wide latitude in questioning, but only a 
few of its many subjects and facets can be noted here. 

Fremont cited as an exhibition of his punitive temper Kearny's 
failure to report to the War Department the recovery of the how- 

" Poinsett to Gouverneur Kemble, 4 Jan. 1848, calendared in heilman & 
LEVIN, no. 571. 


itzer which had been lost at San Pasqual,"^'' and as evidence of his 
faiHng memory the general's inability to remember that it was 
Christopher Carson who brought to his headquarters Fremont's 
17 January letter. He implied that there was something lacking in 
Kearny's credibility when the latter testified that he knew not the 
nature of the reorganization which Stockton and Fremont contem- 
plated making in the California Battalion or even that Gillespie's 
company had been part of the battalion. Fremont accused the gen- 
eral of attempting to keep Gillespie and other witnesses away from 
the trial and of drawing up questions for his own interrogation. 
Furthermore, he charged the prosecution with deliberately not call- 
ing William H. Emory as a witness, thus forcing the defense to do 
so and thereby sacrificing Fremont's right to cross-examine; the 
court could not and would not allow him to impeach his own wit- 
ness. Emory was considered a key witness because he had delivered 
the order to Fremont forbidding any reorganization in the Cali- 
fornia Battalion without the approval of Kearny, and he was also 
the reputed source of much of the distorted newspaper information 
being given to the public on California affairs. 

Although much of it was shaken during cross-examination, 
Kearny's testimony cast Fremont in the role of bargaining for the 
governorship, in effect ascribing a base and sordid motive for the 
offense of mutiny. Undoubtedly Fremont did desire the governor- 
ship and was put in an embarrassing position when offered the 
appointment by both Stockton and Kearny. Kearny also inferred 
that Fremont had destroyed documents, but when pressed to ex- 
plain, he had to admit that this was merely his way of saying that 
he no longer possessed the originals and that he did not intend to 
imply that Fremont had "designedly" disposed of official papers. 

Stockton was the principal witness for the defense, but unfor- 
tunately for Fremont, much of his testimony had little bearing on 
the charges, and there is some evidence that Stockton and Kearny 
had come to a rapprochement on the eve of the commodore's testi- 

'^** On Fremont's arrival in Los Angeles on 14 Jan. Kearny's assistant sur- 
geon had written in his diary. "We saw the howitzer we lost at San Pascual 
— the only regret I had in seeing this was that the Enemy should have de- 
livered it up, before we had an opportunity to take it, or some other piece 
from the Mexicans" (griffin [ 1 ], 22:41). 


mony. Kearny wrote his brother-in-law, naval Lieut. William Rad- 
ford, whom Commodore Biddle had permitted to come home from 
California with Kearny, that "the difficulty between Commodore 
S(tockton) and myself has been adjusted. I wrote to him asking if 
he alluded to me in his letter of November 3rd to the editors of the 
'Republican.' He replied he did not. We have since that time twice 
met in the street and we salute each other. He says the affair be- 
tween us is amicably and honorably adjusted to both parties. 
Colonel Benton will be very disappointed in the testimony of Com- 
modore S as I think when he hears it. I have been led to believe that 
it will be much more against the defense than in its favor."^^ Stock- 
ton may not have been suborned, but was he supporting Fremont 
come "bondage or stripes," as the commodore himself had written 
earlier? Gillespie learned of the settlement of the misunderstanding 
between Stockton and Kearny and also seems to have moved toward 
the general's camp. 

Finding Fremont guilty on all charges and specifications, the 
court sentenced him to be dismissed from the Army. Because of his 
distinguished public service and the peculiar circumstances of the 
case, seven of the thirteen members recommended him to the 
clemency of the president. Polk spent long hours reading the pro- 
ceedings of the trial and sought the advice of his cabinet officials. 
He noted in his diary that he "was not satisfied that the proof in the 
case constituted 'mutiny' " but thought "the proof established dis- 
obedience of orders & conduct to the prejudice of good order and 
military discipline." He therefore decided to approve the sentence of 
the court-martial but cancel the punishment."*** But when Fremont 
received the order to resume his sword and report to duty, he sub- 

^^ For this and several additional documents indicating that Stockton and 
Kearny had come to an agreement, see clarke, 358-61. These sources show 
that Stockton's letter to the editor of the Missouri Republican had contained 
insinuations derogatory to Kearny and noted that those who misrepresented 
the command in California were guilty of falsehood and would "not go un- 
whipped of justice." Later on, being approached by an acquaintance of 
Kearny's, the commodore was willing to say that the letter could have no 
reference to Kearny, if the latter would admit that Stockton had been com- 
mander-in-chief on the march from San Diego to Los Angeles. This Kearny 
was willing to do, and there was a satisfactory exchange of letters between 
the two officers. 

-•"polk, 3:336-38. 


mitted his resignation from the service, refusing to admit in any 
way the justice of the decision against him. 

So bitter was the trial, and so savage and vindictive was Benton 
in his long Senate speech^^ opposing the nomination of Kearny for 
the brevet of major general, that it is difficult to give credence to a 
story that circulated in the newspapers shortly after the death of 
Kearny in St. Louis on 31 October 1848. This was to the effect that 
Mrs. Fremont had proposed to Mrs. Kearny a reconciliation between 
their husbands. The message, so the story goes, was not delivered 
because Mrs. Kearny did not want to disturb her dying husband. In 
a card in the National lntelUge?7cer Benton emphatically denied that 
"any message of any kind" had been sent by the Fremonts and 
charged Emory with originating the false story. And Emory does 
indeed seem to have been the medium through which the story 
reached the Baltimore Patriot.^'^ Kearny's brother-in-law, John D. 
Radford, took note of the reconciliation story as it appeared in the 
Herald of Religious Liberty and denied the deliverance of a mes- 
sage, adding, "Surgeon Wheaton of the Army brought such a 
message as coming from Col. Brant: it was delivered to Mrs. Kearny 
by him and there it rested."*^ Col. Joshua B. Brant was an acquain- 
tance of Kearny. He was married to Benton's niece, and when Fre- 
mont returned from California under arrest, he received his callers 
at Brant's St. Louis residence. 

However much friends might have desired it, it is doubtful that 
the Fremonts would have initiated a reconciliation. Fremont was 
out of the Army, and even the most blatant opportunist would have 
nothing to gain by such a move. In her old age Mrs. Fremont was 
still convinced that Kearny had perjured himself at her husband's 
court-martial. By that time, too, she was able to write a dramatic 

■*^ Appendix to the Congressional Globe, July 1848, 30th Cong., 1st sess., 
pp. 977-1040. 

■*^ See the "cards" of Benton and Emory in the National Intelligencer, 13 
and 14 Dec. 1848; unsigned draft of a letter (probably by Davidge, a Senate 
clerk to the Claims Committee) to the editors of the National Intelligencer; 
and J. Hooker to Emory, 22 Dec. 1848 (CtY — W. H. Emory Papers). In his 
letter Hooker affirmed making a statement that "a verbal message was de- 
livered to Mrs. Kearny in the name of Mrs. Fremont" to the effect that "Mr. 
& Mrs. Fremont had buried & ceased to cherish all bitterness of feeling to- 
wards him [Kearny]." 

*^ Printed in clarke, 385-86. 


but highly unlikely account of an overture of reconciliation. "Gen- 
eral Kearny who lived in St. Louis sent his physician old Dr. Beau- 
mont, to ask me to come and see him, he was dying, and would like 
to ask my forgiveness. I told Dr. Beaumont I could not go, I could 
not forgive him. There was a little grave between us I could not 



Fremont's appearances at his general court-martial had no sooner 
ended when he urged upon Congress the wisdom and justice of 
paying the debts incurred in the conquest and governance of Cali- 
fornia during the turbulent years of 1846 and 1847, for which a 
sufficient amount of naval funds had not been available. These so- 
called California Claims, which were to plague Fremont and Con- 
gress for many years, were owed to four groups of people. The first 
set of claimants was Californians who had had their property seized 
by the Bear Flaggers. The second was both Californians and Ameri- 
cans who had furnished supplies, sometimes unwillingly, to the 
California Battalion, and for the most part had been given only 
receipts. The third was largely businessmen who had advanced 
Fremont money, often at high rates of interest, during his gov- 
ernorship. And the fourth was the volunteers who had received 
receipts— not money— for their services. The government was mor- 
ally bound to make a speedy payment of all these claims before 
hardship forced the small claimant to part with his "promise" at 
a fraction of its value. 

In fact, the existence of the unpaid claims was diminishing Fre- 
mont's popularity and causing great anxiety in California. A public 
meeting in San Fancisco in June 1847 protested against the possibil- 
ity of his being returned to California as governor and appointed 
a Committee of Eight to prepare and produce "reliable instances 
of his misconduct." The protest was occasioned by a petition which 
had been circulated first in the south and then in the north asking 
President Polk to appoint Fremont governor, and support for the 
petition was being obtained by hints that the explorer's return 
would speed a settlement of the debts. The Californian took note 

^"^ Pp. 70, 80, of Jessie B. Fremont's unpublished memoirs (CU-B). nevins, 
342, CLARKE, 383, and de voto, 482, take note of her story. "A little grave" is 
a reference to the death of Benton Fremont on 6 Oct. 1848, less than three 
months after his birth. The mother attributed the poor health of her baby 
to the ordeal she underwent during her husband's court-martial. 



of the disenchantment with Fremont, but it wanted to know how 
Commodore Biddle and General Kearny, who claimed to be the 
superior officers, could take from Stockton and Fremont in the 
name of the United States the country and government property, 
at the same time refusing to pay debts accruing on account of the 
war. "We have never been able to ascertain the difference between 
the man who wrongfully takes property and he who wrongfully 
keeps it."'" 

Fremont's memorial was referred to the Senate Military Affairs 
Committee, and its subcommittee, of which Benton was a member, 
took testimony on the necessity, nature, and amount of the indebted- 
ness which had been incurred. Early in March Senator Lewis Cass 
introduced a bill appropriating $700,000 and naming Fremont and 
two other battalion officers — paymaster Pierson B. Reading and 
commissary officer Samuel J. Hensley — commissioners to adjudicate 
the claims. After a hard struggle the bill finally passed the Senate, 
but in the House, one week before adjournment, a substitute bill 
was reported, reducing the appropriation to $500,000 and appointing 
more nonpartisan commissioners. "It was very plainly seen," Gilles- 
pie wrote Abel Stearns, "that Fremont had made up a little family 
party, which did not suit the judgment of disinterested persons. It 
was generally understood that I was to have been one of the Com- 
missioners; but I have been informed, I was considered too inde- 
pendent & not sufficiently agreeable, consequently was left out." 

Whether Gillespie was "left out" because he was "too independent" 
of the Benton-Fremont forces or for some other reason is not clear. 
Emory wrote Jefferson Davis that he had some letters from Gillespie 
that told a different story on California than the one Gillespie told 
before the subcommittee of the Senate Military Affairs Committee, 
when the prospect of being a commissioner, with its consequent 
remuneration, was "glittering in the eyes of the deponent. "^^ But 
it was clear that the letters of Col. Jonathan D. Stevenson and Gov- 
ernor Richard B. Mason, setting forth some of Fremont's financial 

^^ California Star, 19 fune 1847; Calijornian. 12 June 1847. William Garner 
wrote that William H. Russell employed a shoemaker to circulate the petition 
(garner, 184-85). 

^"^ Congressional Globe, 1847-48. 30th Cong., 1st sess., pp. 423, 604-8, 627- 
31, 676-78, 685, 696-98, 700-708, 1064; Report on Bill Regarding California 
Claims, House Report 817, 30th Cong., 1st sess.. Serial 527; Emory to Davis, 
14 May 1848 (ICHi). 


transactions in Los Angeles and making it appear that he intended 
to defraud the government, were doing their work. The House ad- 
journed with the intention of considering the CaUfornia Claims at 
the next session, but nothing was heard of the subject for four years. 
Fremont did not write a full scientific report of his third expedi- 
tion as he had for the first and second, but he supervised the draw- 
ing of a map of Oregon and Upper California by Charles Preuss 
and produced a short Geographical Memoir, to be published in 
Vol. 3, to accompany that map. The plants he collected were again 
placed at the disposal of John Torrey, for the botanist and explorer 
hoped eventually to make arrangements with the government for 
the publication of a general account of the botany of California. 
When this prospect dimmed, Torrey described ten of the genera in 
Plantce VremontiancE, published in 1853 in the Smithsomaii Contri- 
butions to Knowledge, each subject illustrated by a plate drawn by 
Isaac Sprague, an unrivaled botanical artist. The little botanical 
memoir, which is also to be published in Vol. 3, is limited in scope, 
although Fremont had sent back hundreds of species of plants from 
both Bent's Fort and San Francisco. Those from the Pacific Coast 
came by the Erie, and Torrey wrote a fellow scientist, Jacob Whit- 
man Bailey, a description of how they had been packed. "There 
were two huge cases— filled with the tin cases." They were "soldered 
up after being filled with plants— then guarded by a strong frame 
of wood, & finally sowed up in a green cowhide." Torrey was al- 
ready looking forward to the fourth expedition and the plants 
which might come into his hands.'*' 

No doubt his early California experiences, and especially the or- 
deal of the court-martial— a "Dreyfus" case, Jessie later called it- 
were frustrating to the ambitious young explorer, but Fremont bore 
his setbacks well. At the beginning of the 1845 expedition the artist 
Alfred S. Waugh had found him "a pale intellectual looking young 
man, modest and unassuming, seemingly more accustomed to the 
refinements and luxuries of life, than to the toils and dangers of the 
wilderness." Waugh had expected "a man of herculean frame" but 
found one "small in stature and delicately formed,— voice low and 
musical, and of manners bland and gentlemanly. ... He had no 
outward indications of the mountain traveller about him; all was 

^"^ Torrey to Bailey, 1 July 1848 (Museum of Science, the Library, Science 
Park, Boston — J. W. Bailey Papers). 


quiet, well bred, and retireing. His conversation was modest, in- 
structive and unpretending, with a grace and suavity that irresistably 
won all who approached him. Yet in his eye, you saw something 
which shewed contempt of danger and proclaimed him a man to 
be obeyed under all circumstances."^'* The events of 1847-48 had 
added a touch of bitterness to Fremont's character, and he suffered 
another defeat and humiliation in the failure of Congress to appro- 
priate money for continuing his topographical surveys beyond the 
Mississippi. But there was a tenacity and a resiliency about him that 
would not be denied: soon he was seeking private backing for a 
railroad survey from St. Louis to California, and late October found 
him setting out once more for the Pacific Coast. 


The Documents 

The original text is followed as closely as the demands of typog- 
raphy will permit, with several departures based on common sense 
and the current practice of scholars. In the matter of capitalization 
the original is followed, unless the writer's intention is not clear, in 
which case we resort to modern usage. Occasionally, in the interests 
of clarity, a long, involved sentence is broken into two sentences. 
Missing periods at the ends of sentences are supplied, dashes termi- 
nating sentences are supplanted by periods, and superfluous dashes 
after periods are omitted. In abbreviations, raised letters are brought 
down and a period supplied if modern usage calls for one. Words 
underscored in manuscript are italicized. The complimentary clos- 
ing is run in with the preceding paragraph, and a comma is used 
if no other end punctuation is present. The acute accent mark on 
the e in Fremont is supplied when it appears in the document and 
omitted where it does not appear, but it is used in all of our own 
headings and references to Fremont. Procedures for dealing with 
missing or illegible words, conjectural readings, etc. are shown in 
the list of symbols, pp. li-lii. When in doubt about how to proceed 
in a trivial matter, we have silently followed modern practice; if 
the question is more important, the situation is explained in a note. 

^^ WAUGH, 15. 


Because Jessie B. Fremont wrote and signed so many of her hus- 
band's letters, we have felt that there should be some indication of 
this to the reader. Our solution to the problem is set forth in the list 
of symbols. 

When a related document or letter is used — that is, not one 
directly to or from Fremont — extraneous portions are deleted, and 
the deletion is indicated by a symbol. The present volume contains 
more related documents than did Vol. 1, since we have tried not 
only to avoid repeated summaries but to give precision of meaning, 
particularly in the development of the controversy between Stephen 
Watts Kearny and Fremont. Some of the letters of Thomas H. 
Benton and William C. Jones are really Fremont documents; the 
two were his lawyers at the time of his court-martial. 

The financial vouchers covering this period are too numerous and 
complex to continue the policy of printing them all. Consequently, 
only selected vouchers, requests, claims, and receipts are included, 
in order to show how the war in California was being financed or 
to document an interesting bit of history, such as the inclusion of the 
"Tularie" Indians in the California Battalion. 

Many of the vouchers, receipts, and other papers relating to the 
settlement of the California Claims as well as the detailed proceed- 
ings and decisions of the California Claims Board are in the Records 
of the Office of the Quartermaster General in the National Archives. 
Useful printed summaries of the claims and decisions of the board 
are the reports of the Secretary of War to the Senate, especially 
Senate Exec. Doc. 63, 34th Cong., 1st sess.. Serial 821. Service 
vouchers for men of the third expedition are in the Records of the 
United States General Accounting Office, particularly the microfilm 
collection known as T-135. 

Because Fremont collected in and wrote extensively on natural his- 
tory, mainly botany, on his first two western expeditions, we gave 
those matters a good deal of attention in Vol. 1. Plants mentioned 
in the present volume, either by binomial or common names, may 
usually be identified by referring to the index of Vol. 1. 

Because the proceedings of the 1847-48 court-martial are quite 
long, they are presented as a separately bound supplement. 

The Notes 

The first manuscript indicated is the one from which the tran- 
scription has been made; other copies, if known, are listed next. If 


endorsements or addresses are routine, their presence is merely 
noted, but if they contribute useful information, they are quoted in 
full. For example, see the endorsement on the letter of Thomas H. 
Benton to Roger Jones, 22 August 1847, Doc. No. 208, concerning 
Benton's letter to have Fremont ordered home from California for 
arrest and trial. 

Material taken from printed texts is so indicated (printed, larkin, 
4:239-41), but no attempt is made to record other printed versions. 

Unless previously done in Vol. 1, senders, receivers, and persons 
referred to in the manuscripts are briefly identified at first mention. 
For senders and receivers, this identification is made in the first 
paragraph of the notes and no reference number is used. The reader 
can easily find the identification of an individual by locating in the 
index the page on which he is first mentioned. 

With the exception of Hubert Howe Bancroft's Register of Pio- 
neer Inhabitatits of California, 1542-1848, no source is cited for the 
kind of biographical information to be found in standard direc- 
tories, genealogies, and similar aids. 

Names of authors in small capitals are citations to sources listed 
in the bibliography on pp. 491-501. This device enables us to keep 
many long titles and other impedimenta out of the notes. In the 
case of two or more works by the same author, a number is assigned, 
as in ROGERS [1]. When a published work is being discussed, not 
merely cited, we often list it fully by author and title in the notes. 

To avoid the constant repetition of the Fremont names, we have 
freely used the initials JCF and JBF for John Charles and Jessie. 



























Libraries and Archives, as Designated 

BY THE Natio7ial Union Catalog 

OF THE Library of Congress 

California State Library, Sacramento 

Scripps College, Claremont, Calif. 

Southwest Museum, Los Angeles 

University of California at Los Angeles 

Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif. 

Yale University, New Haven, Conn. 

Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley 

Library of Congress 

Chicago Historical Society, Chicago 

University of Illinois, Urbana 

Filson Club, Louisville, Ky. 

Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul 

Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis 

University of Missouri, Columbia 

New- York Historical Society, New York 

Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. 

Princeton University, Princeton, N.J. 

Columbia University, New York 

New York Botanical Garden, Bronx Park, New York 

Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 

Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 

National Archives Record Groups 

Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel 

Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records 

and Library 

Records of the General Land Office 

Records of the Department of State 

Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers 


DNA-92 Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, CaH- 

fornia Claims Board, 1847-55 
DNA-94 Records of the Adjutant General's Office 

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Other Symbols and Editorial Aids 

AD Autograph document 

ADS Autograph document, signed 

ADS-JBF John C. Fremont document with text and signature in 

Jessie B. Fremont's hand 
AL Autograph letter 

ALS Autograph letter, signed 

ALS-JBF John C. Fremont letter with text and signature in Jessie B. 

Fremont's hand 
D Document 

DS Document, signed 

DS-JBF Document, Fremont's name signed by Jessie 

f/w Filed with 

JBF Jessie Benton Fremont 

JCF John Charles Fremont 

Lbk Letterbook copy 

LR Letter received 

LS Letter sent 

RC Receiver's copy 

RG Record Group 

SC Sender's copy 

[ ] Word or phrase supplied or corrected. Editorial remarks 

within text are italicized and enclosed in square brackets, 
[?] Conjectural reading or conjectural identification of an ad- 

[. . .] A word or two missing or illegible. Longer omissions are 

specified in footnotes. 
< > Word or phrase deleted from manuscript, usually by 

sender. The words are set in italics. 
.... Unrelated matter deleted by the editor. The symbol stands 

alone, centered on a separate line. 


The 1845 Expedition 

and the Clash with the 


1. Excerpt from the Memoirs 

[26 May-16 Aug. 1845] 

Concurrently with the Report upon the second expedition the 
plans and scope of a third one had been matured. It was decided 
that it should be directed to that section of the Rocky Mountains 
which gives rise to the Arkansas River, the Rio Grande del Norte 
of the Gulf of Mexico, and the Rio Colorado of the Gulf of Cali- 
fornia; to complete the examination of the Great Salt Lake and its 
interesting region; and to extend the survey west and southwest to 
the examination of the great ranges of the Cascade Mountains and 
the Sierra Nevada, so as to ascertain the lines of communication 
through the mountains to the ocean in that latitude. And in ar- 
ranging this expedition, the eventualities of war were taken into 

The geographical examinations proposed to be made were in 
great part in Mexican territory. This was the situation: Texas was 
gone" and California was breaking off by reason of distance; the 
now increasing American emigration was sure to seek its better 
climate. Oregon was still in dispute; nothing was settled except the 
fact of a disputed boundary; and the chance of a rupture with Great 
Britain lent also its contingencies. 

Mexico, at war with the United States, would inevitably favor 
English protection for California. English citizens were claiming 
payment for loans and indemnity for losses. Our relations with 
England were already clouded, and in the event of war with Mexico, 

if not anticipated by us, an English fleet would certainly take pos- 
session of the Bay of San Francisco. 

For use in such a contingency the only available force was our 
squadron in the North Pacific, and the measures for carrying out 
the design of the President fell to the Navy Department. During the 
year such precautionary measures as were practicable were taken, 
especially by the vigilant Secretary of the Navy, Mr. [George] Ban- 
croft, whose orders continuously evince comprehending foresight 
and insistence. Imbued with the philosophy of history, his mind 
was alive to the bearing of the actual conditions, and he knew how 
sometimes skill and sometimes bold action determine the advantages 
of a political situation; and in this his great desire was to secure for 
the United States the important one that hung in the balance. In 
the government at Washington he was the active principle, having the 
activity of brain and keen perception that the occasion demanded. 
With him Mr. Benton had friendly personal relations of long 

As affairs resolved themselves, California stood out as the chief 
subject in the impending war; and with Mr. Benton and other 
governing men at Washington it became a firm resolve to hold it for 
the United States. To them it seemed reasonably sure that California 
would eventually fall to England or to the United States and that 
the eventuality was near. This was talked over fully during the 
time of preparation for the third expedition, and the contingencies 
anticipated and weighed. The relations between the three countries 
made a chief subject of interest about which our thoughts settled 
as the probability of war grew into certainty. For me, no distinct 
course or definite instruction could be laid down, but the proba- 
bilities were made known to me as well as what to do when they 
became facts. The distance was too great for timely communication; 
but failing this I was given discretion to act. The instructions early 
sent, and repeatedly insisted upon, to the officer commanding our 
Pacific squadron, gave specific orders to be strictly followed in the 
event of war. But these frequent discussions among the men who 
controlled the action of the Government, gave to me the advantage 
of knowing more thoroughly what were its present wishes, and its 
intentions in the event of war. And so it came that as soon as war 
was sure between Mexico and ourselves. Lieutenant [Archibald H.] 
Gillespie was despatched with instructions; and with letters which, 

if intercepted when crossing Mexico, would convey no meaning to 
others while to me they would be clear.^ Plans and expressions re- 
lating to the future home in California were known by me to be 
intended as relating to its occupation by the United States. 

Mrs. Fremont was to have accompanied me to the frontier, but 
the dangerous illness of Mrs. Benton kept her home. I went off 
with only Jacob and Chinook, who had been recalled from Phila- 
delphia, and was glad to go back to his people."* 

The Quaker family had been interested in him and careful to 
give him such rudiments of practical knowledge as he might be 
able to put to good use. But he was twenty years old when he left 
the Columbia with me; intelligent, with set character formed among 
the habits of Indian life, as ineradicable from Indian manhood as 
his love of free range from a wild horse. How far his brief education 
was likely to influence his life was made strikingly clear to us when 
on the evening he reached Washington he exhibited the parting 
gifts which he had received from his friends. Among these was a 
large Bible which had been made attractive in his eyes by its orna- 
mentation. "Chinook been a Quaker all winter" — "Here," he added, 
with the short Indian laugh of pleasure, "Chinook put here name 
all wife, and all horse." 

The knowledge which his eyes had taken in would be useful 
among his people. He was the son of a chief, and the stories he could 
tell of his life among the whites would add to his importance; and 
the kind treatment he had received would dispose himself and them 
to be friendly to the Americans. 

The Indian boys [Juan and Gregorio] who had spent a happy 
winter in Kentucky met me at Saint Louis, bringing with them 
Sacramento,'' aggressively well. 

On the frontier I formed a camp where my party was quickly 
organized.*' For this expedition ampler means had been provided, 
and in view of uncertain conditions the force suitably increased. In 
addition to the usual outfit of arms I had procured about a dozen 
rifles, the best that could be found; with the object of setting them 
up as prizes for the best marksmen, to be shot for during the jour- 
ney. Many of my old men joined me. And I had again Godey. 

The animals I had left on pasture were in fine condition; hard- 
ened by the previous journey and thoroughly rested they were well 
fitted to endure a campaign. From the Delaware nation twelve men 

had been chosen to go with me. These were known to be good 
hunters and brave men and two of them were chiefs, Swanok and 
Sagundai.' Mr. Preuss was not with me at this time; but was now 
in assured employment and preferred in his comfortable home to 
rest from the hardships of the last journey. In his place Mr. Edward 
M. Kern, of Philadelphia, went with me as topographer. He was 
besides an accomplished artist; his skill in sketching from nature 
and in accurately drawing and coloring birds and plants made him 
a valuable accession to the expedition. Lieutenants Abert and Peck 
had been attached to my command, and also with me were Mr. 
James McDowell, a nephew of Mrs. Benton, and Mr. Theodore 
Talbot, whose health had been restored by the previous journey. 

It was getting late in the year. The principal object of the expedi- 
tion lay in and beyond the Rocky Mountains, and for these reasons 
no time could be given to examinations of the prairie region. The 
line of travel was directed chiefly .to pass over such country as would 
afford good camping-grounds; where water and grass, and wood 
and abundant game would best contribute to maintain the health 
of the men and the strength of the animals.^ Along the route we 
met the usual prairie incidents of Indians and large game, which 
furnished always wholesome excitement. In those days these broke 
pleasantly in upon the silence and uniformity of the prairie and 
made a good school for the men. On the high plains we encountered 
a Cheyenne village which was out on a hunt. The men came to 
meet us on the plain, riding abreast and their drums sounding. They 
were in all their bravery, and the formidable line was imposing, 
and looked threatening to those of our people who were without 
experience in an Indian country. Men, tried and fearless in accus- 
tomed dangers, are often at the first encounter nervous in those that 
are unfamiliar. But the Cheyennes were friendly, and we on our 
side were too strong for any exhibition of hostility or rudeness; and 
so we gave the usual present in exchange for friendly conduct and 
good wishes. 

We had lost an animal which in the night strayed off from the 
band, and early on the march next morning Basil [Lajeunesse], 
with a companion, had been sent out to look for it. He did not get 
in at night nor in the morning. I therefore remained encamped and 
with a small party went in turn to look for him. After a search of 
an hour or two we discovered them halted, and apparently scanning 

the horizon around, in some uncertainty where to look for us. We 
were down in a swale in the ground about three hundred yards 
away, and so out of sight that we had not been seen. We thought to 
try them, and quickly throwing off the greater part of our clothes 
we raised an Indian yell and charged. But there was no hesitation 
with them. They were off their horses in an instant and their 
levelled pieces brought us to an abrupt halt and a hearty laugh 
which we all enjoyed in having found them safe and well. 

Returning to camp our first experiment suggested another. The 
camp lay in a sort of broad gully below the level of the prairie. It 
was midday and the people were careless and more occupied by 
getting the dinner than with Indians. Riding quietly down to the 
hollow which gave an easy approach we charged them with the 
usual yell. Our charge gave them a good lesson, though it lasted 
but a moment. It was like charging into a beehive; there were so 
many men in the camp ready with their rifles that it was very un- 
safe to keep up our Indian character beyond the moment of the 
charge. Still, like all excitements, it stirred the blood pleasantly for 
the moment. 

On the second of August we reached Bent's Fort, on the Arkansas 
River.^ This was our real point of departure. It was desirable to 
make a survey of the prairie region to the southward, embracing the 
Canadian and other rivers. I accordingly formed a detached party, 
in charge of which I placed Lieutenants Abert and Peck, Lieutenant 
Abert being in chief command. Including these officers, the com- 
mand consisted of thirty-three men, and I had the good fortune to 
secure my friend Mr. Fitzpatrick for their guide.^" I had endeavored 
to obtain the services of an Indian who knew well the country, and 
was a man of great influence, especially among the Camanches, but 
no offer that I could make him would induce him to go.^^ It hap- 
pened that the Fort was well provisioned, and from its supplies we 
were able to furnish the party with a good outfit. This consisted 
principally of coffee and sugar for two months, several boxes of 
macaroni, and a quantity of rice, together with four fanegas^^ of 
Mexican flour. In addition they took with them eight steers brought 
up on the prairie and therefore easy to drive. They were furnished 
with four large circular tents, and as the face of the country which 
was covered by the projected survey was not much broken, four 
wagons were added for their outfit and camp equipage.^'^ This out- 

fit may appear luxurious for the prairie, but provisions go fast where 
thirty healthy men taking just the right quantity of exercise are to 
be fed three times a day. 

Mr. Hatcher, who was a good hunter, was to accompany them as 
far as Bent's Post on the Canadian.^^ 

On the 12th Mr. Fitzpatrick took leave of me and joined the 
party. On the same day Lieutenant Abert changed his encampment 
preparatory to making his start, and on the 14th the two officers 
came to take leave of me. 

It is well to say here that on the journey to Bent's Fort I had been 
much prepossessed in their favor. They had shown themselves well 
qualified for such an expedition which as of course was entirely 
new to them. In this journey they have given evidence of the pru- 
dence and good judgment which enabled them to carry through 
successfully the expedition entrusted to their care. 

The next day I sent Lieutenant Abert his instructions, which were 
to survey the Canadian from its source to its junction with the 
Arkansas, taking in his way the Purgatory River, and the heads 
of the Washita; and on the 16th he commenced his journey down 
the Arkansas.^^ 

MEMOIRS, 422-26. 

1. For the orders under which JCF mounted his third western expedition, 
see three letters of J. J. Abert to Fremont, 12 Feb., 10 April, and 14 May 1845, 
printed in Vol. 1 ; for a discussion of these orders, see the introduction to this 

It is well to remember that the Memoirs, not published until 1887, gave 
ICF the advantage of hindsight but deny the reader the immediacy of a 
contemporary document. We quote from this work extensively because ICF 
did not keep a journal on the 1845 expedition. That it frequently becomes 
a self-serving document, no one can deny. 

2. On 1 March 1845 President Tyler had already signed the joint resolution 
passed by Congress for the admission of Texas as a state, and all that re- 
mained was to procure Texas's assent. 

3. For a discussion of ICF's contention that he had been given discretion — 
even secret instructions — to act in California, see Doc. No. 22 and the intro- 

4. Except for the 15 Aug. 1845 order to lames W. Abert (Doc. No. 2), no 
letters from ICF have been unearthed for a seven-month period — from the 
communique to Archibald Campbell of 22 May 1845 (printed in Vol. 1) 
until the letter to lessie of 24 Ian. 1846. But the letters of participants, such 
as Theodore Talbot and Edward Kern, supply interesting bits of information. 

On his way to St. Louis with lacob Dodson and Kino, another Negro 
servant in the Benton household, ICF stopped to visit Benton at his farm in 
Kentucky. Meanwhile Talbot and William Chinook pressed on down the 
Ohio River to Cape Girardeau and then up the Mississippi to St. Louis, 


where, with the assistance of Robert Campbell, Talbot began buying "the 
thousand things required for the expedition." JCF arrived in St. Louis on 30 
May and immediately began the task of engaging the men to accompany 
him. Talbot wrote a graphic description of this process to his sister Mary on 
4 June: 

You ought to have witnessed the scene which we had here on Monday. 
Capt. Fremont it seems gave notice to those who wished to accompany him, 
through the papers, saying that if they collected at the Planters Warehouse 
(one of the largest houses in the City of that kind) that he would explain 
the objects, dudes, pay, &c. of the Expedidon. Long before the appointed hour 
the house was filled and Capt. Fremont found it necessary to adjourn to an 
open square. I walked round to the place of meedng about this time with 
Mr. Bent to see what was going on. The whole street and open space was 
crowded. We could easily trace the Captain's motions by the denser nucleus 
which moved hither and thither. They broke the fences down and the Captain 
finally used a wagon as his rostrum but it was impossible for him to make 
himself heard. Each one being unwilling to allow his neighbor the advantage 
of having a word with or even being seen by Fremont. So it was a grand 
tustle. Fremont at last took refuge in a hotel. This house is absolutely besieged 
they rush into his bedroom and all Jacob's strength & vigilance has been inade- 
quate to keep them out. The Captains last expedient is to have himself locked 
up and the key taken off, this plan has been highly successful though rather 
inconvenient for Jacob has once or twice left him in duress rather longer than 
he desired. 

Talbot thought JCF had in general selected excellent personnel, but he 
noted that "several however who will not render him much service have been 
thrust upon him in spite of him through the influence of their friends" and 
hoped that these might be replaced with good men on the Arkansas at Bent's 
or the Pueblo. 

5. JCF's saddle horse, a gift from John A. Sutter in 1844. 

6. On 5 June JCF rode the twenty miles from St. Louis to St. Charles, 
where he took a steamboat for Westport Landing. He then encamped on the 
prairies six or seven miles west of Westport to superintend the making of 
tents and the reduction of chaos to order. Talbot remained in St. Louis, 
sending out men and equipment, until 10 June, when he also left for the 
frontier. Incessant rain hampered organization, but on 23 June the camp 
moved several miles farther from Westport to "get away from civilization 
and Brandy," as Edward Kern expressed it. Talbot had been sent to Fort 
Leavenworth on 21 June for some needed articles, but he returned in time to 
move with the camp an additional live or six miles on 25 June and to see 
from ten to fourteen men, perhaps dissatisfied with strict discipline, leave the 
expedition. According to Isaac Cooper, who went with the party as far as 
Bent's Fort, no one except JCF was to keep a journal or other memoranda. 
On 26 June the expedition, still hampered by rain, began its slow but regular 
progress west. On 1 July two artists, Alfred S. Waugh and John B. Tisdale, 
overtook JCF and renewed their pleas, reinforced with letters of recom- 
mendation, to go with the expedition, but they were refused. They turned 
back on 4 July, as did the two or three ox carts which had been carrying 
camp equipment. Isaac Cooper noted that the usual order of the train was 
the captain and the campmaster, followed by the carriage with the "square 
black roof" carrying the captain's baggage and instruments, and then the 

four wagons, one of which was drawn by a six-mule team. The wagons were 
followed by loose horses and mules, kept within certain bounds by several 
horsemen. Next came a long train of men on horseback leading pack mules, 
individually or by twos and threes. For details on the organization of the 
expedition and the division of the camp into ten messes, see Talbot to Mary 
Talbot, 9 June 1845, to Adelaide Talbot, 15, 18, and 25 June, 3 July 1845 
(DLC— Talbot Papers); Edward Kern to Richard Kern, [19] June [1845] 
(CSmH); ms journal of Isaac Cooper, 1846 (CCS); i. cooper, 9:71-73, 146- 
48, 221-22, 290-93, 366-68; National Intelligencer, 17 Oct. 1845. 

7. Some of the Delawares took a shortcut from Westport and met the ex- 
pedition at Bent's Fort. Isaac Cooper mentions this fact, as does Talbot in 
a 16 Aug. letter. Actually there seem to have been only nine Delawares, 
one of whom was a small boy, a kind of page or equerry. In a certificate 
dated 21 March 1857, printed in Memorial of the Delaware Indians, Senate 
Doc. 16, p. 159, 58th Cong., 1st sess.. Serial 4563, JCF names eight: James 
Swanuck [Swanok, Swanick, Sewanik], James Sagundai [Saghundai, Se- 
condi, Secondai], James Connor [Conner], Delaware Charley, Wetowka 
[Wetowah, Wetowa], Crane, Solomon Everett, and Bob Skirkett. James 
Swanuck was the son of the principal chief of the Delawares. The chief was 
erroneously reported as having been killed the previous summer by the 
Cheyennes. Sagundai was the uncle of the young Swanuck (carter [2]). 

8. The expedition followed the Santa Fe Trail as far as the Pawnee fork of 
the Arkansas River, then up the Pawnee to its head and over to the Smoky 
Hill fork of the Kansas River. Traveling west on JCF's 1844 eastbound 
route, it reached the Arkansas River about twenty-five miles below Bent's 
Fort (Talbot to Adelaide Talbot, 10 and 16 Aug. 1845, DLC— Talbot 

9. Talbot wrote, "We were welcomed by Mr. St. Vrain one of the elder 
partners of the Company & Mr. Geo. Bent who we saw last year with 
several others that we had met before" (Talbot to Adelaide Talbot, 16 Aug. 
1845, DLC— Talbot Papers). The National Intelligencer, 10 Sept. 1845, notes 
that a letter had been received in Washington from JCF, dated 2 Aug. from 
Bent's Fort, but did not give its contents; apparently the letter is no longer 

10. Thomas Fitzpatrick was piloting Col. Stephen Watts Kearny and five 
companies of the 1st Dragoons, who were returning east to Fort Leavenworth 
from an expedition into the Indian country as far as South Pass on the 
Oregon Trail. Kearny had passed Bent's Fort two or three days before JCF 
arrived, and the latter now sent a courier to obtain the services of Fitz- 
patrick as a guide for Abert's detachment and to deliver the mail which he 
had brought "from the settlements" for the troops (report of Lieut. William 
B. Franklin to Kearny, 5 Nov. 1845, pp. 56-57, DNA-77, LR, "F"). 

11. The Indian whom JCF originally tried to obtain as guide for Abert's 
detachment was Tahkaibuhl, a Kiowa (abert [1], 2). 

12. A fanega today is approximately 1.6 bushels. During the Santa Fe 
Trail period it was measured as 140 pounds, or approximately two bushels 
(twitchell, 2:133n). According to Abert, his expedition was given eight 
janegas of flour. 

13. Abert thus "inherited" the wagons of the expedition, and JCF proceeded 
west without these encumbrances. 

14. Virginia-born John L. Hatcher (ca. 1812-97) was one of the most able 
and trusted of the hunters and traders employed by William Bent. In 1859 


he settled in the Sonoma Valley in California but some eight years later 
moved to Oregon, where he bought a farm in Linn County (carter [3]). 
15. The Journal of Lt. J. W. Abert, from Bent's Fort to St. Louis, in 1845, 
Senate Exec. Doc. 438, 29th Cong., 1st sess.. Serial 477, is a report of this 
detachment of JCF's expedition. A new edition of this journal, which ap- 
peared in 1970, omits many of the engravings illustrating the congressional 
document, but it contains watercolors from Abert's 1845 sketchbook. See 

ABERT [2]. 

2. Fremont to James W. Abert 

Bent's Fort, Arkansaw River 
August 15th, 1845 

In conformity to instructions from the Department directing an 
extension of our surveys along the base of the southern Rocky 
Mountains, you will immediately after the reception of these orders 
proceed to the mouth of the Purgatoire (Las Animas) branch of 
the Arkansaw,^ and agreeably to the directions which you have 
already received in greater detail, continue up that stream to a 
point where it is intersected by the wagonroad to Santa Fe — crossing 
the Ratofj, a spur of the Rocky Mountains, by way of this road and 
striking the Red River (Canadian) of the Arkansaw a few miles 
below its issue from the mountains, you will ascend the stream to 
that place, and after having carefully determined your position, 
survey that river thence so far down as Fort Ceran, a trading post 
recently established by Mr. Bent.^ 

Leaving this post by way of Arrow Creek'^ your farther route will 
be southwardly through the broken country at the foot of the Rocky 
Mountains, crossing successively the Elk branch^ of the Canadian 
and the Buffalo and Cut Nose Creeks'^ of the Great Red River. The 
points on these streams intersected by your line you will of course 
determine in position, making, if necessary on account of weather, 
some delay at the head of Cut Nose Creek, which you are directed 
strictly to consider the southern limit of your exploration. 

You will thence descend to the junction of this stream with the 
Buffalo River, a point which you are also required to determine 
astronomically. Continuing your road down the latter river so far 
as a locality called the "Sand Hills" you will leave the waters of 


Red River and cross northwardly to the Canadian Fork of the Ar- 
kansaw River. 

The continuation of your route will now be down the Canadian 
Fork, and you will give particular attention, among your astronom- 
ical positions, to the determination of the mouth of Wolf River 
and the junction of the Canadian Fork with the Arkansaw River. 
Proceeding from this point immediately to the neighboring town 
of Van Buren [in Arkansas] you will be governed by the state of 
the season in your route to the city of St. Louis, where your party 
will be discharged, and paid by Mr. Robert Campbell, who has been 
provided with the necessary funds. A statement of their accounts 
will accompany this letter. 

For the execution of these duties you will be furnished with a 
party of thirty-three men. Lieut. Peck will be attached to the party 
as your assistant, and Mr. Thomas Fitzpatrick will accompany you 
as guide. 

The few astronomical positions which are here indicated to you 
are those only which are to be regarded among the more important 
and you will neglect no opportunity to multiply them along your 
line of travel, endeavoring as frequently as possible to control your 
chronometer by lunar distances, as I am unable to furnish you with 
instruments for other observations. It would be well to make a 
little delay for the determination of some marked position on your 
line in the neighborhood of the boundary between the United States 
and Mexico. 

Should you find at St. Louis, no instructions for the disposition 
of the public property, I would recommend you to leave this to the 
discretion of Mr. Campbell until farther orders from the Chief of 
the Topographical Bureau. 

It is expected that you will so regulate your travel as to reach the 
city of St. Louis within the present year, and so far as will be con- 
sistent with this end, the above instructions are to be considered 
absolute, and admitting of no departure except where they may be 
rendered entirely impracticable by the nature of the country. Very 
Respectfully Sir, Your Obedient Servant, 

J. C. Fremont 
Bt. Capt. Topi. Engrs. 
Lieut. James Abert 
Topi. Engineers 
Fort William, Arkansaw River 


LS, RC (DNA-77, LR). Endorsed: "Order from Capt. Fremont directing 
a Survey of the Cafiadian River, August 15, 1845." 

1. Purgatoire, later corrupted to "Picketwire," was the French name for the 
Purgatory; Las Animas was the early Spanish name for the same stream, a 
shortening of El Rio de las Animas Perdidas en Purgatorio. 

2. Probably the trading post established in the winter of 1843-44 on Bent's 
Creek in northeastern Hutchinson County, Tex. It seems not to have been 
used very much by the Bents after 1845. 

3. Probably the present White Deer Creek. 

4. Apparently the present Red Deer Creek near Pampa, Tex. 

5. Buffalo and Cut Nose creeks were Indian names for heads of the Washita 
(abert [1], 6). The Washita, often called the False Washita, rises on the 
Llano Estacado east of present Miami, Tex., and roughly parallels the 
Canadian, some ten to twenty miles below that river, until it turns south. It 
continues a southern course until it empties into the Red River at the 
Preston Bend above Denison, Tex. The Canadian flows eastward to the 

3. Excerpt from the Memoirs 

[16 Aug. 1845-24 Jan. 1846] 

With Lieutenant Abert also went Mr. James McDowell, who de- 
cided to avail himself of the survey to return for the reason that 
his work would not be carried into the winter, while my journey 
to the Pacific was expected to be of long duration. 

From the Fort I sent an express to Carson at a rancho, or stock 
farm, which with his friend Richard Owens^ he had established 
on the Cimarron, a tributary to the Arkansas River. But he had 
promised that in the event I should need him, he would join me. 
And I knew that he would not fail to come. My messenger found 
him busy starting the congenial work of making up a stock ranch. 
There was no time to be lost, and he did not hesitate. He sold every- 
thing at a sacrifice, farm and cattle; and not only came himself but 
brought his friend Owens to join the party. This was like Carson, 
prompt, self-sacrificing, and true. I received them both with great 

That Owens was a good man it is enough to say that he and 
Carson were friends. Cool, brave, and of good judgment; a good 
hunter and good shot; experienced in mountain life; he was an 
acquisition, and proved valuable throughout the campaign. 

Godey had proved himself during the preceding journey, which 


had brought out his distinguishing quaHties of resolute and aggres- 
sive courage. Quick in deciding and prompt in acting he had also 
the French ela72 and their gayety of courage. 

"Gai, gai, avangons nous." 
["Gaily, gaily, let us go along."] 

I mention him here because the three men come fitly together, 
and because of the peculiar qualities which gave them in the highest 
degree efficiency for the service in which they were engaged. 

The three, under Napoleon, might have become Marshals, chosen 
as he chose men. Carson, of great courage; quick and complete 
perception, taking in at a glance the advantages as well as the 
chances for defeat; Godey, insensible to danger, of perfect coolness 
and stubborn resolution; Owens, equal in courage to the others, 
and in coolness equal to Godey, had the coup-d'oeil of a chess-player, 
covering the whole field with a glance that sees the best move. His 
dark-hazel eye was the marked feature of his face, large and flat 
and far-sighted. 

Godey was a Creole Frenchman of Saint Louis, of medium height 
with black eyes and silky curling black hair which was his pride. 
In all situations he had that care of his person which good looks 
encourage. Once when with us in Washington, he was at a concert; 
immediately behind him sat the wife of the French Minister, Ma- 
dame Pageot, who, with the lady by her, was admiring his hair, 
which was really beautiful, "but," she said, "C'est une perruque." 
They were speaking unguardedly in French. Godey had no idea of 
having his hair disparaged and with the prompt coolness with 
which he would have repelled any other indignity turned instantly 
to say, "Pardon, Madame, c'est bien a moi." The ladies were silenced 
as suddenly as the touch on a tree trunk silences a katydid. 

On the 16th of August I left Bent's Fort with a well-appointed 
compact party of sixty; mostly experienced and self-reliant men, 
equal to any emergency likely to occur and willing to meet it. 

On the 20th of August we encamped on the Arkansas at the 
mouth of the FoJitaine qtu Botiit River. I had with me good instru- 
ments for astronomical observations, among them a portable transit 
instrument. This I set up, and established here one of the four 
principal positions on which depend the longitudes of the region 
embraced in the expeditions. The longitude was determined by 
moon culminations and the latitude by sextant observations of Po- 
laris and stars in the south. 


The resulting longitude at this position is 104° 42' 41". The lati- 
tude 38° 15' 18^ 

On the 26th we encamped at the mouth of the Great Canyon [the 
eastern end of the Roval Gorge] and next morning leaving the 
[Arkansas] river passed in our w^ay over a bench of the mountains 
which the trappers believed to be the place where [Zebulon] Pike 
was taken prisoner by the Mexicans. But this side of the river was 
within our territory. He supposed himself to be on the Arkansas 
when he was taken prisoner on the Rio del Norte, where he had 
built a stockade." 

Crossing various forks of the [Arkansas] river we finally, on 
September 2d, reached and continued up the main branch, having 
on our right the naked rock ridge of the mountain, and encamped 
at night on the head-waters of the Arkansas in Mexican territory; 
in latitude 39° 20' 38", longitude 106° 27' 15". 

This was pleasant travelling. The weather now was delightful 
and the country beautiful. Fresh and green, aspen groves and pine 
woods and clear rushing water, cool streams sparkling over rocky 

In a pine grove at the head of the river we came to our delightful 
surprise upon a small herd of buffalo, which were enjoying them- 
selves in the shade and fresh grass and water .'^ It was now very rare 
that these animals were found so far west, and this made for us a 
most pleasant and welcome incident, as it was long now since we 
had parted from the buffalo. This must have been a stray herd 
which had found its wav into the upper mountains and they had 
remained for a long time undisturbed. Sometimes in severe winters 
deer find their wav into the highest parts of the wooded mountains, 
and remain there, keeping fat and sheltered in the aspen groves 
which furnish them food. Probably this little herd of buffalo had 
done the same. The Utah |Ute] Pass was several days' journey to 
the southeast, and this part of the mountain [i.e., the Rocky Moun- 
tains] was out of the way of ordinary travel. 

Here along in these mountains was one of the pleasantest grounds 
in the journey. Game was plenty; deer and elk. We were some 
days after on the mountain slopes, where a lovely view extended 
across a broad vallev to the opposite ridges. It was so fine a view 
that Kern sketched it. In looking over the country I had ridden oflf 
a mile or two from the party, keeping along the heights to enjoy 
the air and views, when I came upon a small band of buffalo, doubt- 

less part of the herd which we had found in the pines at the top of 
the mountain. The ground was rough, but we had a fine race. I had 
closed up and was about to fire when the pistol which I held raised 
went off, and the ball passed so close to my head that I reined up 
in surprise. My holster pistols were a hair-trigger pair, and old 
companions which I liked for that, and because they were true as 
a rifle. "Sucre bo?i coup," Basil said of them once when he saw the 
head of a quail cut off at long range. This time it was my own head. 
It is in this way that men have been sometimes lost in the mountains 
and never found. They lie like the trunk of a fallen tree worn by 
the snow and rain until the tall, rank grass covers and hides them. 
My trail would not have been taken in time and it would have 
been by the merest chance that any hunter would have passed the 

One of the Delawares had killed a fat buffalo cow. This singular 
meeting with the buffalo was our last; and they were probably the 
last stragglers that ever reached the western slope of the mountains. 
This was the general opinion of our people, whose experience would 
be likely to make it correct. The places where I have described 
them made then the broadest range of the buffalo from east to west, 
and make a fair exhibit of the abounding animal life of the country. 

Passing that night of the 4th on Piny River, an affluent of Grand 
River, of the Colorado of the Gulf of California, we encamped the 
next day on the same river at "Williams Fishery," in longitude 106° 
44' 21", latitude 39° 39' IT. We caught here a singular fish, which 
was called buffalo-fish from a hump on the back, rising straight 
up immediately behind the head. 

Between fishermen and hunters the camp was abundantly sup- 
plied in all this part of our journey. These wood-clothed ranges, 
with their abundant game and healthful air, we have seen described 
as "impenetrable deserts whose rugged inaccessibility barred all 
passage, amid whose parched sterility unfortunate travelers were 
exposed to death from thirst and hunger." 

The character of the mountain country has been so fully given 
in the previous journeys, that it does not need to be longer dwelt 
upon here.^ On the 2d of October I encamped on a branch of the 
Timpanogos [Provo] River, and on the 10th reached the shore of 
the lake [Utah] and its outlet at the mouth of Hugh's Creek [Jor- 
dan River?], on the 12th. The geographical features of the country 
were carefully sketched; and astronomical observations, for which 


the continued fine weather favored us, were made on the different 
affluents to the Grand and Green River forks of the Great Colorado. 
The next day we encamped at a creek on the shores of the Great 
Salt Lake, where I made the second principal station for longitude. 
These observations resulted in longitude 112° 06' 08", and latitude 
40° 45' 53". 

It will be remarked that our journey from the head of the Arkan- 
sas River had been continuously in Mexican territory, as was all 
of the Salt Lake vallev. Two weeks were spent in this valley and on 
its tributarv streams, during which we were occupied in fixing 
the positions of various points, and extending our examination into 
and around the lake. 

The rocky shores of its islands were whitened by the spray which 
leaves salt on everything it touches, and a covering like ice forms 
over the water which the waves throw among the rocks. This seems 
to be the dry season when the waters recede; and the shores of the 
lake, especially on the south side, are whitened with incrustations 
of fine white salt. The shallow arms of the lake, under a slight 
covering of briny water, present beds of salt extending for miles. 
Plants and bushes blown by the winds upon these fields are entirely 
incrusted with crystallized salt. The stem of a small twig, less than 
the size of a goose-quill, from the southeastern shore, showed a 
formation of more than an inch thick of crystallized salt. The fresh 
water received by the lake is great in quantity, from the manv 
fresh-water streams flowing into it, but they seem to have no per- 
ceptible effect. We could find in it no fish, or animal life of any 
kind, the larvae which were accumulated in beds on the shore being 
found to belong to winged insects. On the contrary, the upper lake— 
the Timpanogos — which discharges into this by a stream about 
thirty-five miles long, is fresh water, and affords large trout and 
other fish in great numbers. These constitute the food of the Indians 
during the fishing season. 

The mineral or rock salt is found in beds of great thickness at 
the heads of a stream in the mountains to the eastward behind the 
lakes. These strata probably underlie the bed of the Great Lake, and 
constitute the deposit from which it obtains its salt. It was found 
by us in the place marked by Humboldt on his map of New Spain 
as derived from the journal of the missionary Father Escalante, who 
towards the close of the last century attempted to penetrate the un- 
known country from Santa Fe of New Mexico to Monterey of 


California.^ But he does not seem to have got further in his adven- 
turous journey — and this at that time was far — than the south end 
of the Timpanogos. Southeast of this lake is the chain of the Wah- 
satch Mountains, which make in that part the rim of the Great 
Basin. In this mountain, at the place where Humboldt has written 
"Mo72tagnes de sel Gemme" (Rock Salt Mountain), the strata of 
salt are found in thick beds of red clay, at the heads of a small 
stream tributary to the Utah or Timpanogos Lake on its southeast- 
erly side. 

There is at the southern end of the lake a large peninsular island, 
which the Indians informed me could at this low stage of the water 
be reached on horseback. Accordingly on the 18th I took with me 
Carson and a few men and rode from our encampment near the 
southeastern shore across the shallows to the island — almost penin- 
sular at this low stage of the waters — on the way the water nowhere 
reaching above the saddle-girths. The floor of the lake was a sheet 
of salt resembling softening ice, into which the horses' feet sunk to 
the fetlocks. On the island we found grass and water and several 
bands of antelope. Some of these were killed, and, in memory of 
the grateful supply of food they furnished, I gave their name to 
the island. An observation of the meridian altitude of the sun, taken 
on the summit of the peak of the island, gave for its latitude 40° 58' 

Returning to the shore we found at the camp an old Utah Indian. 
Seeing what game we had brought in he promptly informed us that 
the antelope which we had been killing were his — that all the 
antelope on that island belonged to him — that they were all he had 
to live upon, and that we must pay him for the meat which we had 
brought away. He was very serious with us and gravely reproached 
me for the wrong which we had done him. Pleased with his readi- 
ness, I had a bale unpacked and gave him a present — some red 
cloth, a knife, and tobacco, with which he declared himself abun- 
dantly satisfied for this trespass on his game preserve. With each 
article laid down, his nods and gutturals expressed the satisfaction 
he felt at the success of his imaginary claim. We could see, as far as 
an Indian's face lets expression be seen, that he was thinking, "I 
went to the White Chief who killed my antelope, and made him 
pay for it." There is nothing new under the sun. 

The climate of this lake country does not present the rigorous 


winter due to its elevation and mountainous structure. Observations 
made during our stay here show that around the southern shore of 
the lake, latitude 40° 30' to 41°, for two weeks in the month of 
October, from the 13th to the 27th, the mean temperature was 40° 
at sunrise, 70° at noon, and 54° at sunset; ranging at sunrise from 
28° to 57° ; at noon, from 62° to 76° ; at four in the afternoon, from 
58° to 69° ; and at sunset, from 47° to 57°. 

Until the middle of the month the weather remained fair and 
very pleasant. On the 15th it began to rain in occasional showers 
which whitened with snow the tops of the mountains on the south- 
east side of the lake valley. Flowers were in bloom during all the 
month. About the 18th, when we visited the large island in the south 
of the lake, helianthus [sunflower], several species of aster, erodium 
cicutarium [filaree], and several other plants were in fresh and full 
bloom; the grass of the second growth was coming up finely, and 
vegetation generally betokened the lengthened summer of the cli- 

The 16th, 17th, and 18th were stormy with rain; heavy at night; 
the peaks of the Bear River range and tops of mountains covered 
with snow. On the 18th the sky cleared with weather like that of 
late spring, and continued mild and clear until the end of the 
month, when the fine weather was again interrupted by a day or 
two of rain. No snow showed within 2000 feet above the level of 
the valley. 

On the 23rd I encamped at a spring in a valley opening on the 
southern shore of the lake. On the way, near the shore, we came 
to a small run flowing into the lake, where an Indian was down on 
his hands and knees, drinking water. Going there also to drink, we 
were surprised to find it salt. The water was clear, and its coolness 
indicated that it came from not far below the surface.® 

On the 25th we moved camp to a valley near the southwestern 
shore about fifty miles from the station creek [JCF's Station Creek, 
now City Creek], and in longitude 113° 05' 09", latitude 40° 38' 

At this point we were to leave the lake. From my neighboring 
mountain height looking westward, the view extended over ranges 
which occupied apparently the whole visible surface — nothing but 
mountains, and in winter-time a forbidding prospect. Afterwards, 
as we advanced, we found the lengthening horizon continued the 


same prospect until it stretched over the waters of the Pacific. Look- 
ing across over the crests of these ridges, which nearly all run north 
and south, was like looking lengthwise along the teeth of a saw. 

Some days here | in Skull Valley] were occupied in deciding upon 
the direction to be taken for the onward journey. The route I wished 
to take lay over a flat plain covered with sage-brush. The country 
looked dry and of my own men none knew anything of it; neither 
Walker'* nor Carson. The Indian declared to us that no one had ever 
been known to cross the plain, which was desert; so far as any of 
them had ventured no water had been found. It was probably for 
this reason Father Escalante had turned back. Men who have tra- 
velled over this country in later years are familiar with the stony, 
black, unfertile mountains, that so often discouraged and brought 
them disappointment. Nearly upon the line of our intended travel, 
and at the farther edge of the desert, apparently fifty to sixty miles 
away, was a peak-shaped mountain. This looked to me to be fertile, 
and it seemed safe to make an attempt to reach it. By some persua- 
sion and the offer of a tempting reward, I had induced one of the 
local Indians to go as guide on the way to the mountain; willing to 
profit by any side knowledge of the ground, or water-hole that the 
rains might have left, and about which the Indians always know in 
their hunts through the sage after small game. 

I arranged that Carson, [Auguste] Archambeau[lt], and [Lucien 
B.] Maxwell should set out at night, taking with them a man having 
charge of a pack-mule with water and provisions, and make for the 
mountain. I to follow with the party the next day and make one 
camp out into the desert.*^ They to make a signal by smoke in case 
water should be found. 

The next afternoon, when the sun was yet two hours high, with 
the animals rested and well watered, I started out on the plain. As 
we advanced this was found destitute of any vegetation except sage- 
bushes, and absolutelv bare and smooth as if water had been stand- 
ing upon it. The animals being fresh I stretched far out into the 
plain. Travelling along in the night, after a few hours' march, my 
Indian lost his courage and grew so much alarmed that his knees 
really gave way under him and he wabbled about like a drunken 
man. He was not a true Utah, but rather of the Pi-utes, a Digger of 
the upper class, and he was becoming demoralized at being taken 
so far from his gite. Seeing that he could be of no possible use I gave 
him his promised reward and let him go. He was so happy in his 


release that he bounded off like a hare through the sage-brush, 
fearful that I might still keep him. 

Sometime before morning I made camp in the sage-brush, light- 
ing fires to signal Carson's party.^" Before daybreak Archambeau 
rode in; the jingling of his spurs a welcome sound indicating as it 
did that he brought good tidings. They had found at the peak water 
and grass, and wood abundant. The gearing up was quickly done 
and in the afternoon we reached the foot of the mountain, where a 
cheerful little stream broke out and lost itself in the valley. The 
animals were quickly turned loose, there being no risk of their 
straying from the grass and water. To the friendly mountain I gave 
the name of Pilot Peak. From my observation this oasis is in the 
latitude 41° 00' 28" longitude 114°ir09". Some time afterward, 
when our crossing of the desert became known, an emigrant caravan 
was taken by this route, which then became known as The Hastings 

We gave the animals a day's rest here. The crossing of the desert 
had been a little strain upon them; many of them being grain-fed 
horses, unused to travelling on grass. These cannot stand being 
over-fatigued, soon reaching the stage which is called in the lan- 
guage of the country reste; from which they cannot recover without 
time, and must be left on the trail. With a mule it is very different. 
He may be reste at night, but give him plenty of good grass and 
water and he is ready for service in the morning.^^ 

On the 1st of November we resumed our journey. The ridges 
which occupied the basin and which lay across our route are short, 
being the links which form the ranges; and between their overlap- 
ping points were easy passes by which the valleys connect. This is 
their regular structure. 

Through these passes we wound our way and in the evening 
encamped at a spring in the head of a ravine which my observations 
put in longitude 114° 26' 22", latitude 40°43'29'V' and the next 
day I made camp at a spring to which I gave the name of Whitton, 
one of my men who discovered it.^"* 

In advancing, the country was always carefully examined, so far 
as the eye could form any judgment upon it; and from the early 
morning start the men were spread over it to search for a camping- 
place which with water should give the best grass. 

The winter was now approaching and I had good reason to know 
what the snow would be in the Great Sierra. It was imprudent to 


linger long in the examination of the Great Basin. In order therefore 
to use to the best advantage the interval of good w^eather I decided 
to divide my party and run two separate lines across the Basin. 

On the evening of the 8th I encamped on a small stream which I 
called Crane's Branch after one of my Delaware hunters. Crane was 
a good judge of country with a quick eye exercised in hunting. He 
was one of the men I liked to have near me. He was usually serious 
and dignified even for an Indian, who are naturally grave men. The 
objects which furnish ideas to the mind of an Indian are very few 
and mostly what he sees within a limited range. Within this, the 
game and other natural objects which come before his eyes; and 
outside of it, the enemies whom he goes to fight and scalp, if he 
can. These make his two sets of ideas. Nearer to the whites, other 
subjects force their way in confused shape through the barriers of an 
unknown language, but these are quite outside of the usual Indian 
understanding. The subjects belonging to their manner of life they 
hesitate to talk about with the whites; this and the difference of 
language make them reserved to us. With me the Delawares were 
now making the grand tour. 

Crane's Branch led into a larger stream that was one of two forks 
forming a river to which I gave the name of Humboldt.^^ I am 
given by himself the honor of being the first to place his great name 
on the map of the continent. 

Both the river and mountain to which I gave his name are con- 
spicuous objects; the river stretching across the Basin to the foot of 
the Sierra Nevada, and the mountain standing out in greater bulk 
and length than its neighbors, and being one of those which I have 
named fertile mountains, having on it abundant water and grass, 
and woods. 

Years after in travelling through that country I was glad to find 
that river and mountain held his name, not only on the maps, but 
in usage by the people. 

I now divided the party, giving to Mr. Kern the charge of the 
main body with instructions to follow down and survey the Hum- 
boldt River and its valley to their termination in what was called 
"the Sink."^^ This is a broad level bottom of fertile land; probably 
once the bed of the lake when over all this region, at a time not 
very remote, the waters were higher. When I passed there two years 
later it was covered with grass and several varieties of clover. Thence 
to continue on along the eastern foot of the Sierra to a lake to which 


I have given the name of Walker, who was to be his guide on this 
survey. I had engaged Mr. Walker for guide in this part of the 
region to be explored, with which, and the southern part of the 
"California Mountain" he was well acquainted. The place of meet- 
ing for the two parties was to be the lake [i.e., Walker Lake]. 

This party would have a secure line of travel in following the 
river, which would furnish grass and water for the entire journey 
and so keep the greater number of the animals in as good condition 
as the season admitted. 

To accompany myself I selected ten men, among whom were 
some of the Delawares.^' I took leave of the main party and set out 
on a line westward directly across the Basin, the look of the country 
inducing me to turn somewhat to the south. 

We lost no time in pressing forward; but the tortuous course 
rendered unavoidable by the necessity of using just such passes as 
the mountains gave, and in searching for grass and water, greatly 
lengthened our road. Still it gave me knowledge of the country. The 
early morning began the day's work by the usual careful study of 
the ground ahead for indications to the best line of travel, and so 
soon as they were ready the hunters started out to the right and left, 
scouring the country as we advanced. When anything worthy of 
note was discovered a shot was fired, or the horseman would make 
a few short turns backward and forward as a signal that something 
requiring attention had been found. 

We succeeded in finding always good camping-grounds, usually 
availing ourselves of the Indian trails which skirted the foot of the 
ridges. When well marked showing use, these never failed to lead 
to water and the larger the trail the more abundant the water. This 
we always found at the edge of the mountains, generally in some 
ravine, and quickly sinking into the ground; never reaching the 
valley except in seasons of rain. Doubtless artesian wells would find 
it and make fertile these valleys, which now are dry and barren. 

Travelling along the foot of a mountain on one of these trails we 
discovered a light smoke rising from a ravine, and riding quietly 
up, found a single Indian standing before a litde sage-brush fire 
over which was hanging a small earthen pot, filled with sage-brush 
squirrels. Another bunch of squirrels lay near it and close by were 
his bow and arrows. He was deep in a brown study, thinking per- 
haps of some game-trail which he had seen and intended to follow 
that afternoon, and did not see or hear us until we were direcdy 


upon him, his absorbed thoughts and the sides of the ravine cutting 
off sounds. Escape for him was not possible and he tried to seem 
pleased, but his convulsive start and wild look around showed that 
he thought his end had come. And so it would — abruptly — had the 
Delawares been alone. With a deprecating smile he offered part of 
his pot-aU'jeu and his bunch of squirrels. I reassured him with a 
friendly shake of the hand and a trifling gift. He was a good-looking 
young man, well made, as these Indians usually are, and naked as a 

The Delawares lingered as we turned away, but I would not let 
them remain. Anyhow they regarded our journey as a kind of war- 
path and no matter what kind of path he is upon a Delaware is 
always ready to take a scalp when he is in a country where there 
are strange Indians. We had gone but a short distance when I found 
they had brought away his bow and arrows, but I had them taken 
immediately back. These were well made; the bow strong, and 
made still stronger with sinews, and the arrows were all headed 
with obsidian worked in the usual spear shape by patient labor, and 
nearly as sharp as steel. The Delawares took them back willingly 
when I reminded them that they had exposed the poor fellow to 
almost certain starvation by depriving him at the beginning of 
winter of his only means to procure food. 

At one of our camps on the foot-slopes of a ridge we found again 
springs of boiling water; but a little way distant from the spring of 
cold water which supplied us. 

A day or two after we saw mountain sheep for the first time in 
crossing the Basin. None were killed, but that afternoon Carson 
killed an antelope. That day we travelled late, making for the point 
of a wooded mountain where we had expected to find water, but 
on reaching it found only the dry bed of a creek where there was 
sometimes running water. It was too late to go farther and I turned 
up the creek bed, taking the chance to find it above as the mountain 
looked promising. Well up, towards the top of the mountain, nearly 
two thousand feet above the plain, we came upon a spring where 
the little basin afforded enough for careful use. A bench of the 
mountain near by made a good camping-ground, for the November 
nights were cool and newlv-fallen snow already marked out the 
higher ridges of the mountains. With grass abundant, and pine 
wood and cedars to keep up the night fires, we were well provided 


Sagundai who had first found the spring saw fresh tracks made 
in the sand by a woman's naked foot, and the spring had been re- 
cently cleaned out. But he saw no other indications of human life. 
We had made our supper on the antelope and were lying around 
the fije, and the men taking their great comfort in smoking. A good 
supper and a pipe make for them a comfortable ending no matter 
how hard the day has been, Carson who was lying on his back with 
his pipe in his mouth, his hands under his head and his feet to the 
fire, suddenly exclaimed, half rising and pointing to the other side 
of the fire, "Good God! look there!" In the blaze of the fire, peering 
over her skinny, crooked hands, which shaded her eyes from the 
glare, was standing an old woman apparently eighty years of age, 
nearly naked, her grizzly hair hanging down over her face and 
shoulders. She had thought it a camp of her people and had already 
begun to talk and gesticulate, when her open mouth was paralyzed 
with fright, as she saw the faces of the whites. She turned to escape, 
but the men had gathered about her and brought her around to the 
fire. Hunger and cold soon dispelled fear and she made us under- 
stand that she had been left by her people at the spring to die, be- 
cause she was very old and could gather no more seeds and was no 
longer good for anything. She told us she had nothing to eat and 
was very hungry. We gave her immediately about a quarter of the 
antelope, thinking she would roast it by our fire, but no sooner 
did she get it in her hand than she darted ofT into the darkness. 
Some one ran after her with a brand of fire, but calling after her 
brought no answer. In the morning, her fresh tracks at the spring 
showed that she had been there for water during the night. Starva- 
tion had driven her to us, but her natural fear drove her away as 
quickly, so soon as she had secured something to eat. Before we 
started we left for her at the spring a little supply from what food 
we had. This, with what she could gather from the nut-pine trees 
on the mountain, together with our fire which she could easily keep 
up, would probably prolong her life even after the snows came. The 
nut-pines and cedars extend their branches out to the ground and 
in one of their thickets, as I have often proved, these make a com- 
fortable shelter against the most violent snow-storms. 

This was Sagundai's Spring. The names of my camps here along 
become the record of the rivalry of the men in finding good camps. 
It became the recurring interest of each day to prove their judgment 
of country as well as their skill as hunters. 


The region here along had a special interest for me and our prog- 
ress was slow for the two following days. We had now reached a 
low valley line that extends along the eastern foot of the ridges 
which constitute the Sierra Nevada. Into this low ground the rivers 
from the Sierra as well as from the Basin gather into a series of 
lakes extending south towards the head of the Gulf of California. 
I had a reason for carefully examining this part of the Basin, but 
the time needed for it would interfere with other objects and the 
winter was at hand. 

The place appointed for meeting the main party was on the east- 
ward shore of Walker's Lake near the point where the river to 
which I had given the same name empties into it. Making our way 
along the foot of the mountain towards our rendezvous we had 
reached one of the lakes where at this season the scattered Indians 
of the neighborhood were gathering to fish. Turning a point on the 
lake shore the party of Indians some twelve or fourteen in number 
came abrupdy into view. They were advancing along in Indian file, 
one following the other, their heads bent forward and eyes fixed 
on the ground. As our party met them the Indians did not turn 
their heads nor raise their eyes from the ground. Their conduct 
indicated unfriendliness, but, habituated to the uncertainties of 
savage life, we too fell readily into their humor, and passed on our 
way without word or halt. Even to us it was a strange meeting. 

It was the solitary occasion where I met with such an instance of 
sullen and defiant hostility among Indians and where they neither 
sought nor avoided conflict. I judged that they either regarded us 
as intruders, or that they had received some recent injury from the 
whites who were now beginning to enter California, and which 
they wished but feared to avenge. 

In this region the condition of the Indian is nearly akin to that 
of the lower animals. Here they are really wild men. In this wild 
state the Indian lives to get food. This is his business. The super- 
fluous part of his life, that portion which can be otherwise employed, 
is devoted to some kind of warfare. From this lowest condition, 
where he is found as the simplest element of existence, up to the 
highest in which he is found on this continent, it is the same thing. 
In the Great Basin, where nearly naked he travelled on foot and 
lived in the sage-brush, I found him in the most elementary form; 
the men living alone; the women living alone, but all after food. 
Sometimes one man cooking by his solitary fire in the sage-brush 


which was his home, his bow and arrows and bunch of squirrels by 
his side; sometimes on the shore of a lake or river where food was 
more abundant a little band of men might be found occupied in 
fishing; miles away a few women would be met gathering seeds 
and insects, or huddled up in a shelter of sage-brush to keep off the 
snow. And the same on the mountains or prairies where the wild 
Indians were found in their highest condition, where they had 
horses and lived in lodges. The labor of their lives was to get some- 
thing to eat. The occupation of the women was in gleaning from 
the earth everything of vegetable or insect life; the occupation of 
the men was to kill every animal they could for food and every 
man of every other tribe for pleasure. And, in every attempt to 
civilize, these are the two lines upon which he is to be met. 

On the 24th we encamped at our rendezvous on the lake where 
beds of rushes made good pasturage for our animals. ^^ Three days 
afterward the main party arrived. ^^ They were all in good health, 
and had met with no serious accident. But the scarcity of game had 
made itself felt, and we were now all nearly out of provisions. It 
was now almost midwinter, and the open weather could not be 
expected to last. 

In this journey across the Basin, between latitudes 41° and 38°, 
during the month of November from the 5th to the 25th, the mean 
temperature was 29° at sunrise and 40° at sunset, ranging at noon 
between 41° and 60°. There was a snow-storm between the 4th and 
7th, snow falling principally at night, and the sun occasionally 
breaking out in the day. The lower hills and valleys were covered 
only a few inches deep with snow, which the sun carried off in a 
few hours after the storm was over. The weather continued unin- 
terruptedly clear and beautiful until the close of the month. But 
though the skies were clear it was colder now that we had come 
within the influence of the main Sierra. 

I was in the neighborhood of the passage which I had forced 
across it a year before, and I had it on my mind. Heavy snows might 
be daily expected to block up the passes, and I considered that in 
this event it would be hopeless to attempt a crossing with the ma- 
terial of the whole party. 

I therefore decided again to divide it, sending the main body 
under Kern to continue southward along the lake line and pass 
around the Point of the California Mountain into the head of the 
San Joaquin valley. There, as already described, the great Sierra 


comes down nearly to the plain, making a Point, as in the smaller 
links, and making open and easy passes where there is never or 
rarely snow. As before, Walker, who was familiar with the southern 
part of Upper California, was made the guide of the party; and, 
after considering the advantages of different places, it was agreed 
that the place of meeting for the two parties should be at a little 
lake in the valley of a river called the Lake Fork of the Tulare Lake 
[Kings River]. 

With a selected party of fifteen, among whom were some of my 
best men, including several Delawares, I was to attempt the crossing 
of the mountain in order to get through to Sutter's Fort before the 
snow began to fall. At the fort I could obtain the necessary supplies 
for the relief of the main party. 

Leaving them in good order, and cheerful at the prospect of escap- 
ing from the winter into the beautiful "California Valley," as it was 
then called, we separated, and I took up my route for the river 
which flows into Pyramid Lake, and which on my last journey I 
had named Salmon-Trout [Truckee] River. 

I now entered a region which hardship had made familiar to me, 
and I was not compelled to feel my way, but used every hour of the 
day to press forward towards the Pass at the head of this river. 

On the 1st of December I struck it above the lower canon, and on 
the evening of the 4th camped at its head on the east side of the pass 
in the Sierra Nevada. Our effort had been to reach the pass before 
a heavy fall of snow, and we had succeeded. All night we watched 
the sky, ready to attempt the passage with the first indication of 
falling snow; but the sky continued clear. On our way up, the fine 
weather which we had left at the foot of the mountain continued to 
favor us, and when we reached the pass the only snow showing was 
on the peaks of the mountains."" 

At three in the afternoon the temperature was 46° ; at sunset, 34°. 
The observations of the night gave for the longitude of the pass, 
120° 15' 20'', and for the latitude, 39° 17' 12". Early the next morn- 
ing we climbed the rocky ridge which faces the eastern side, and at 
sunrise were on the crest of the divide, 7200 [7,135] feet above the 
sea; the sky perfectly clear, and the temperature 22°. There was no 
snow in the pass, but already it showed apparently deep on higher 
ridges and mountain-tops. The emigrant road now passed here fol- 
lowing down a fork of Bear River, which leads from the pass into 
the Sacramento valley. Finding this a rugged way, I turned to the 


south and encamped in a mountain-meadow where the grass was 
fresh and green. We had made good our passage of the mountain 
and entered now among the grand vegetation of the CaHfornia 
valley. Even if the snow should now begin to fall, we could out- 
strip it into the valley, where the winter king already shrunk from 
the warm breath of spring. 

The route the next day led over good travelling ground ; gaining 
a broad leading ridge we travelled along through the silence of a 
noble pine forest where many of the trees were of great height and 
uncommon size. The tall red columns standing closely on the clear 
ground, the filtered, flickering sunshine from their summits far over- 
head, gave the dim religious light of cathedral aisles, opening out 
on every side, one after the other, as we advanced. Later, in early 
spring, these forest grounds are covered with a blue carpet of forget- 

The pines of the European forests would hide their diminished 
heads amidst these great columns of the Sierra. A species of cedar 
{Thuya gigantea) occurred often of extraordinary bulk and height. 
Pin us Lambertiani [sugar pine] was one of the most frequent trees, 
distinguished among cone-bearing tribes by the length of its cones, 
which are sometimes sixteen or eighteen inches long. The Indians 
eat the inner part of the burr, and I noticed large heaps of them 
where they had been collected. 

Leaving the higher ridges we gained the smoother spurs and de- 
scended about 4000 feet, the face of the country rapidly changing 
as we went down. The country became low and rolling; pines began 
to disappear, and varieties of oak, principally an evergreen resem- 
bling live oak, became the predominating forest growth. The oaks 
bear great quantities of acorns, which are the principal food of all 
the wild Indians; it is their bread-fruit tree. At a village of a few 
huts which we came upon there was a large supply of these acorns; 
eight or ten cribs of wicker-work containing about twenty bushels 
each. The sweetest and best acorns, somewhat resembling Italian 
chestnuts in taste, are obtained from a large tree belonging to the 
division of white oaks, distinguished by the length of its acorn, 
which is commonly an inch and a half and sometimes two inches. 
This long acorn characterizes the tree, which is a new species and is 
accordingly specified by Dr. Torrey as Quercus lofigiglanda (Torr. 
and Frem.) — long-acorn oak. This tree is very abundant and gener- 
ally forms the groves on the bottom-lands of the streams; standing 


apart with a green undergrowth of grass which gives the appearance 
of cultivated parks. It is a noble forest tree, sixty to eighty feet high 
with a summit of wide-spreading branches, and frequently attains 
a diameter of six feet; the largest that we measured reached eleven 
feet. The evergreen oaks generally have a low growth with long 
branches and spreading tops. 

At our encampment on the evening of the 8th, on a stream which 
I named Hamilton's Creek,"^ we had come down to an elevation of 
500 feet above the sea. The temperature at sunset was 48°, the sky 
clear, the weather calm and delightful, and the vegetation that of 
early spring. We were still upon the foot-hills of the mountains, 
where the soil is sheltered by woods and where rain falls much more 
frequently than in the open Sacramento Valley near the edge of 
which we then were. I have been in copious continuous rains of 
eighteen or twenty hours' duration, in the oak region of the moun- 
tain, when none fell in the valley below. Innumerable small streams 
have their rise through these foot-hills, which often fail to reach 
the river of the valley, but are absorbed in its light soil; the large 
streams coming from the upper part of the mountain make valleys 
of their own of fertile soil, covered with luxuriant grass and inter- 
spersed with groves. 

The oak belt of the mountain is the favorite range of the Indians. 
I found many small villages scattered through it. They select places 
near the streams where there are large boulders of granite rock, 
that show everywhere holes which they had used for mortars in 
which to pound the acorns. These are always pretty spots. The 
clean, smooth granite rocks standing out from the green of the 
fresh grass over which the great oaks throw their shade, and the 
clear running water are pleasant to eye and ear. 

After the rough passage and scanty food of the Basin these lovely 
spots with the delightful spring weather, fresh grass and flowers, 
and running water, together with the abundant game, tempted us 
to make early camps; so that we were about four days in coming 
down the valley. 

Travelling in this way slowly along, taking the usual astronomical 
observations and notes of the country, we reached on the 9th of 
December the |Eliab] Grimes Rancho [del Paso] on what was then 
still known as Rio de los Amencanos— the American Fork, near 
Sutter's Fort. 

Captain Sutter received me with the same friendly hospitality 


which had been so deHghtful to us the year before."^ I found that 
our previous visit had created some excitement among the Mexican 
authorities. But to their inquiries he had explained that I had been 
engaged in a geographical survey of the interior and had been 
driven to force my way through the snow of the mountains simply 
to obtain a refuge and food where I knew it could be had at his 
place, which was by common report known to me. 

Being ourselves already recruited by the easy descent into the 
valley I did not need to delay long here. A few days sufficed to pur- 
chase some animals and a small drove of cattle, with other needed 

Leaving the upper settlements of New Helvetia, as the Sutter set- 
tlement was called, on the 14th of December, I started to find my 
party which I had left in charge of Talbot when we had separated in 
the Basin on Walker Lake. Passing through the groves of oak which 
border the American Fork, we directed our route in a southeasterly 
course towards the Cosumne River. 

The Cosumne Indians, who have left their name on this river, 
and which I had preserved on my map of the country, have been 
driven away from it within a few years and dispersed among other 
tribes ; and several farms of some leagues in extent had already been 
commenced on the lower part of the stream. At one of these we 
encamped about eight miles above the junction of the Cosumne 
with the Mokelumne River, which a few miles below enters a deep 
slough in the tide-water of the San Joaquin delta. 

Our way now lay over the well-remembered plains of the San 
Joaquin valley, the direction of our route inclining towards the 
mountains. We crossed wooded sloughs, with ponds of deep water, 
which nearer the foothills are running streams with large bottoms 
of fertile land ; the greater part of our way being through evergreen, 
and other oaks. The rainy season, which commonly begins with 
November, had not yet commenced, and the streams were at the 
low stage usual to the dry season and easily forded. The Mokelumne 
where we crossed it is about sixty yards wide; the broad alluvial 
bottoms were here about five hundred yards wide. Leaving this 
river on the morning of the 16th, we travelled about twenty miles 
through open woods of white oak, crossing in the way several 
stream-beds, among them the Calaveras Creek. These have abundant 
water with good land nearer the hills; and the Calaveras makes 
some remarkably handsome bottoms. 


Issuing from the woods we rode about sixteen miles over open 
prairie partly covered with bunch-grass, the timber reappearing on 
the roUing hills of the river Stanislaus in the usual belt of evergreen 
oaks. The level valley was about forty feet below the upland, and 
the stream seventy yards broad, with the usual fertile bottom-land 
which was covered with green grass among large oaks. We en- 
camped in one of these bottoms, in a grove of the large white oaks 
previously mentioned. 

The many varieties of deciduous and evergreen oaks which predom- 
inate throughout the valleys and lower hills of the mountains afiford 
large quantities of acorns. Their great abundance in the midst of 
fine pasture-land must make them an important element in the 
farming economy of the country. 

The day had been very warm. At sunset the temperature was 55° 
and the weather clear and calm. 

At sunrise the next morning the thermometer was at 22° with a 
light wind from the Sierra N. 76° E. and a clear pure sky, against 
which the blue line of the mountains showed clearly marked. The 
way for about three miles was through woods of evergreen and 
other oaks with some shrubbery intermingled. Among this was a 
lupine of extraordinary size, not yet in bloom. Emerging from the 
woods we travelled in a southeasterly direction, over a prairie of 
rolling land, the group becoming more broken as we approached the 
Tuolumne River, one of the finest tributaries to the San Joaquin. 

The hills were generally covered with a species of geranium 
{erodium cicutarium) , in the language of the country alfaljeria, a 
valuable plant for stock and considered very nutritious. With this 
was frequently interspersed good and green bunch-grass, and a plant 
commonly called bur-clover. This plant, which in some places is 
very abundant, bears a spirally twisted pod, filled with seeds that 
remain on the ground during the dry season, well preserved. This 
affords good food for the cattle until with the spring rains new 
grass comes up. 

We started a band of wild horses on approaching the river and 
the Indians ran oflF from a village on the bank; the men lurking 
round to observe us. 

The trail led sidling down the steep face of the hill to the river- 
bottom. The horse I was riding, one of those gotten at Sutter's, had 
been reclaimed from the wild herds, and seeing this wild herd 
scouring off he remembered his own free days and in mid-trail set 


himself to bucking, in the way a California horse — wild or tame — 
knows how to do exceptionally. A wild horse broken to the saddle 
never forgets, and takes advantage of every chance he has to rid 
himself of his rider. If a girth breaks or a saddle turns he knows it. 
A rifle across the saddle and Indians to be watched and a bucking 
horse on a steep hill-side make a complicated situation, but we got to 
the bottom without parting company and my horse seemed only 
pleased by the excitement. 

I give place to a recollection of another bucking horse which il- 
lustrates well the capacity in that way of the California horse of the 
civilized breed and the capacity of the Californian to sit him. After 
the capitulation of Couenga I was riding into Los Angeles at the 
head of the battalion and was met by Don Francisco de la Guerra^"* 
and other officers of the Californian force, who brought with them 
for me two fine horses, one gray, the other a palomino or tan-colored 
cream; both uncommonly large for Californian horses and just the 
size for a saddle-horse. Before changing my saddle I took a look at 
the two, and not liking the eyes of the gray I had Jacob put the 
saddle on the palomino. My friend Don Pedro Carillo,"^ a Califor- 
nian, educated at Harvard — and who had taken sides with me and 
was one of my aides — took the gray. Of course, like all Californians, 
Don Pedro was a splendid horseman. He sprang lightly into the 
saddle, which was that of the country, with the usual mochila or 
large, stiff, leather covering to the saddle. But his right foot had not 
reached the stirrup when the gray commenced. He bucked from the 
start, going around in a circle about thirty yards across, bucking 
right along and with so much force that he jerked Don Pedro's 
sword from its scabbard, the pistols from the holsters and the 
mochilas from between him and the saddle. Everybody applauded 
his horsemanship. Francisco de la Guerra cried out "Todavia es 
Californio!" ("He is a Californian still.") 

Californians generally were handsome, but even among them 
Don Pedro was a fine-looking man. He is yet living at Los Angeles, 
and we remain friends. 

We encamped on the Tuolumne on bottom-land, open-wooded 
with large white oaks of the new species; and excellent grass fur- 
nished good food for the animals. The usual order of the camp was 
enlivened by the Indians, who were soon reconciled to our presence. 
About their huts were the usual acorn cribs, containing each some 


twenty or thirty bushels. The sunset temperature was pleasant, at 
54°, and a clear atmosphere. Multitudes of geese and other wild 
fowl made the night noisy. 

In the morning the sky was clear, with an air from the southeast 
and a hoar frost covering the ground like a light fall of snow. At 
sunrise the thermometer was at 24°, a difference from the preceding 
sunset of thirty degrees. Our course now inclined more towards the 
foot of the mountain and led over a broken country. In about seven- 
teen miles we reached the Auxumne River — called by the Mexicans 
Merced — another large affluent of the San Joaquin, and continued 
about six miles up the stream, intending gradually to reach the heart 
of the mountains at the head of the Lake Fork of the Tulare. 

We encamped on the southern side of the river, where broken 
hills made a steep bluff, with a narrow bottom. On the northern 
side was a low, undulating wood and prairie land, over which a 
band of about three hundred elk was slowly coming to water, feed- 
ing as they approached. 

The next day was December the 19th ; the weather continuing clear 
and pleasant, very unlike the winter days to which we were accus- 
tomed. We continued our journey in a southeasterly direction, over 
a broken and hilly country without timber, and showing only scat- 
tered clumps of trees from which we occasionally started deer. 

In a few hours we reached a beautiful country of undulating up- 
land, openly wooded with oaks, principally evergreen, and watered 
with small streams which together make the Mariposas River. Con- 
tinuing along we came upon broad and deeply-worn trails which 
had been freshly travelled by large bands of horses, apparently 
coming from the San Joaquin valley. But we had heard enough to 
know that they came from the settlements on the coast. These and 
indications from horse-bones dragged about by wild animals, wolves 
or bears, warned us that we were approaching villages of Horse- 
thief Indians, a party of whom had just returned from a successful 
raid. Immediately upon striking their trail I sent forward four of 
my best men, Dick Owens and Maxwell and two Delawares. I fol- 
lowed after with the rest of the party, but soon the Indian signs 
became so thick, trail after trail coming into that on which we were 
travelling, that I saw we were getting into a stronghold of the 
Horse-thieves, and we rode rapidly forward. After a few miles of 
sharp riding, a small stream running over a slaty bed, with clumps 
of oaks around, tempted me into making an early halt. Good grass 


was abundant, and this spot not long since had been the camping 
ground of a village, and was evidently one of their favorite places, 
as the ground was whitened with the bones of many horses. We 
had barely thrown off our saddles and not yet turned the horses 
loose, when the intermittent report of rifles, in the way one does 
not mistake, and the barking of many dogs and sounds of shouting 
faintly reached us, made us quickly saddle up again and ride to the 
sounds at speed. 

Four men were left to guard the camp. In a short half mile we 
found ourselves suddenly in front of a large Indian village not two 
hundred yards away. More than a hundred Indians were advancing 
on each side of a small hill, on the top of which were our men 
where a clump of oaks and rocks amidst bushes made a good de- 
fence. My men had been discovered by the Indians and suddenly 
found themselves in the midst of them, but jumped from their 
horses and took to the rocks, which happened to be a strong place 
to fight them. The Indians were shouting at them in Spanish, and 
the women and children at the village howling at their best. Our 
men were only endeavoring to stand them off until we should get 
up, as they knew we would not be far behind. The Indians had 
nearly surrounded the knoll and were about getting possession of 
the horses when we came into view. Our shout as we charged up 
the hill was answered by the yell of the Delawares as they dashed 
down the hill to recover their animals, and the report of Owens' 
and Maxwell's rifles. Owens had singled out the foremost Indian, 
who did not go any farther up the hill, and the others drew a little 
back towards the village. Anxious for the safety of the men left 
behind, I profited by the surprise to withdraw towards our camp; 
checking the Indians by an occasional rifle shot, with the range of 
which they seemed to think they were acquainted. They followed us 
to the camp and scattered around among the rocks and trees, whence 
they harangued us, bestowing on us liberally all the epithets they 
could use, telling us what they would do with us. Many of them 
had been Mission Indians and spoke Spanish well, "Wait," they 
said. "Esperate Carrajos — wait until morning. There are two big 
villages up in the mountains close by; we have sent for the Chief; 
he'll be down before morning with all the people and you will all 
die. None of you shall go back; we will have all your horses." 

I divided the camp into two watches, putting myself into the last 
one. As soon as it was fully dark each man of the guard crept to 


his post. We heard the women and children retreating towards the 
mountains. Before midnight the Indians had generally withdrawn, 
only now and then a shout to show us that they were on hand and 
attending to us. Otherwise nothing occurred to break the stillness 
of the night, but a shot from one of the Delawares fired at a wolf 
as it jumped over a log. In our experienced camp no one moved, 
but Delaware Charley crept up to me to let me know what had 
caused the shot of the Delaware who, with hostile Indians around, 
instinctively fired at a moving thing that might have been an 
Indian crawling towards our horses. 

The Horse-thief tribes have been "Christian Indians" of the Mis- 
sions, and when these were broken up by Mexico the Indians took 
to the mountains.-""' Knowing well the coast country, and the exact 
situation of the Missions where they had lived and the ranchos and 
the range which their horses were accustomed to, they found it easy 
to drive off the animals into the mountains, partly to use as saddle- 
horses, but principally to eat. 

In time they became a scourge to the settlements. The great ranges 
which belonged with the ranchos not only supported many thou- 
sands of cattle, but also many hundreds of horses which were di- 
vided into bands, "manadas." The Indians were the vaqueros or 
herdsmen who attended to both; herding the cattle, and breaking 
in the colts. The Californians had great pleasure in their horses. On 
some ranchos there would be several hundred saddle-horses, in 
bands of eighty or a hundred of different colors; Alazan (sorrel) 
always the favorite color. Deprived of their regular food, the Indians 
took to the mountains and began to drive off horses. Cattle would 
not drive fast enough to avoid the first pursuit. In their early con- 
dition they had learned to eat wild horse-meat and liked it. Fami- 
liarity with the whites and the success of their predatory excursions 
made the Horse-thief Indians far more daring and braver than 
those who remained in fixed villages, whether in the mountains or 
on the valley streams which carried the name of the different tribes 
—the Cosumne, Mokelumne, Towalumne, and Auxumne Rivers. 
Probably all the streams if their Indian names could have been 
known, received their names from the small tribes who lived upon 

The Indians of this country finding their food where they lived 
were not nomadic. They were not disposed to range, and seemed 
unaccustomed to intrude upon the grounds which usage probably 


made the possession of other tribes. Their huts were easily built 
and permanent; the climate was fine, they lived mostly in the open 
air, and when they died they were not put in the ground but up in 
the branches of the trees. The climate is such that a dead animal left 
on the ground simply dries up and only the eye gives knowledge of 
its presence. 

The springs and streams hereabout were waters of the Chauchiles 
[Chowchilla] and Mariposas Rivers and the Indians of this village 
belonged to the Chauchiles tribe. 

On some of the higher ridges were fields of a poppy which, flut- 
tering and tremulous on its long thin stalk, suggests the idea of a 
butterfly settling on a flower, and gives to this flower its name of 
Mariposas — butterflies — and the flower extends its name to the stream. 

We were only sixteen men. Keeping in the oak belt on the course 
I was pursuing would bring us farther among these villages, and 
I would surely have lost the cattle and perhaps some men and horses 
in attacks from these Indians. In the morning therefore I turned 
down one of the streams and quickly gained the open country of 
the lower hills. We had gained but a little distance on this course 
when an Indian was discovered riding at speed towards the plain, 
where the upper San Joaquin reaches the valley. Maxwell was ahead 
and not far from the Indian when he came into sight, and knowing 
at once that his object was to bring Indians from the river to inter- 
cept us, rode for him. The Indian was well mounted but Maxwell 
better. With Godey and two of the Delawares I followed. It was 
open ground over rolling hills and we were all in sight of each 
other, but before we could reach them a duel was taking place be- 
tween Maxwell and the Indian — both on foot, Maxwell with pistols, 
the Indian with arrows. They were only ten or twelve paces apart. 
I saw the Indian fall as we rode up. I would have taken him pri- 
soner and saved his life, but was too late. The Delawares captured 
his horse. 

Riding along the open ground towards the valley after a mile or 
two we discovered ten Indians ahead going in the same direction. 
They saw us as well, but took no notice and did not quicken their 
gait. When we were about overtaking them they quietly turned into 
a close thicket which covered about eight acres. We gave the thicket 
a wide berth; for ten Indians in such a place were more dangerous 
than so many gray bear. 

Turning now to the southward we continued on our way, keep- 


ing a few men towards the mountain to give early notice of the ap- 
proach of any Indians. At evening we encamped in a spring hollow 
leading to the upper San Joaquin where it makes its way among 
the hills towards the open valley. We were at an elevation of 1000 
feet abov€ the sea; in latitude by observation 37° 07M7". The day 
had been mild with a faint sun and cloudy weather; and at sunset 
there were some light clouds in the sky and a northeasterly wind, 
and a sunset temperature of 45°; probably rendered lower than 
usual by the air from the mountains, as the foot-hills have generally 
a warmer temperature than the lower valley. 

During the day elk were numerous along our route, making at 
one time a broken band several miles in length. On the 21st the 
thermometer was at sunrise 33°; the sky slightly clouded, and in 
the course of the morning clouds gathered heavy in the southwest. 
Our route lay in a southeasterly direction, still toward the upper 
Joaquin, crossing among rolling hills, a large stream, and several 
sandy beds and affluents to the main river. On the trees along these 
streams as well as on the hills I noticed mosses. In the afternoon we 
reached the upper San Joaquin River, which was here about seventy 
yards wide and much too deep to be forded; a little way below we 
succeeded in crossing at a rapid made by a bed of rock below which, 
for several miles, the stream appeared deep and not fordable. We 
followed down it for six or eight miles and encamped on its banks 
on the verge of the valley plain. 

At evening rain began to fall, and with this the spring properly 
commenced. In November there had been a little rain, but not suffi- 
cient to revive vegetation. 

December 22d. Temperature at sunrise was 39°. During the night 
there had been heavy rain, with high wind, and there was a thick 
fog this morning, but it began to go off at 8 o'clock when the sun 
broke through. We crossed an open plain still in a southeasterly 
direction, reaching in about twenty miles the Tulare Lake River. 
This is the Lake Fork; one of the largest and handsomest streams 
in the valley, being about one hundred yards broad and having 
perhaps a larger body of fertile lands than any one of the others. 
It is called by the Mexicans the Rio de los Reyes. The broad alluvial 
bottoms were well wooded with several species of oaks. This is the 
principal affluent of the Tulare Lake, a strip of water which receives 
all the rivers in the upper or southern end of the valley. In time of 
high water it discharges into the San Joaquin River, making a con- 


tinuous water-line through the whole extent of the valley. The lake 
itself is surrounded by lowlands and its immediate shores are rankly 
overgrown with bulrushes. 

According to the appointment made when I left my party under 
Talbot, it was a valley upon the Lake Fork to which the guide 
Walker was to conduct him. Here I expected to find him."^ The 
men, as well as the cattle and horses, needed rest; a strict guard had 
been necessary, as in the morning Indian sign was always found 
around our camp. The position was good in the open ground among 
the oaks, there being no brush for cover to the Indians, and grass 
and water were abundant. Accordingly we remained here a day 
and on the 24th entered the mountain, keeping as nearly as possible 
the valley ground of the river. While in the oak belt the travelling 
was easy and pleasant, but necessarily slow in the search for our 
people, especially here in this delightful part of the mountain where 
they should be found. Several days were spent here. At the elevation 
of 3500 feet the ridges were covered with oaks and pines intermixed, 
and the bottom-lands with oaks, cottonwoods, and sycamores. Con- 
tinuing upward I found the general character of the mountain 
similar to what it was in the more northern part, but rougher, and 
the timber perhaps less heavy and more open, but some trees ex- 
tremely large. I began to be surprised at not finding my party, but 
continued on, thinking that perhaps in some spread of the river 
branches I was to find a beautiful mountain valley. Small varieties 
of evergreen oaks were found at the observed height of 9840 feet 
above the sea, at which elevation pi?ius Lambertiafii and other 
varieties of pine, fir, and cypress were large and lofty trees. The 
distinctive oak belt was left at about 5000 feet above the sea. 

Indians were still around the camp at night and the necessity of 
keeping the animals closely guarded prevented them from getting 
food enough and, joined with the rough and difficult country, 
weakened them. For this, I usually made the day's journey short. 
I found the mountain extremely rocky in the upper parts, the 
streams breaking through canons, but wooded up to the granite 
ridges which compose its rocky eminences. We forced our way up 
among the head springs of the river and finally stood upon the flat 
ridge of naked granite which made the division of the waters and 
was 11,000 feet above the sea. The day was sunny and the air warm 
enough to be not only very agreeable, but with exercise exhilarating, 
even at that height. Lying immediately below, perhaps 1000 feet, 


at the foot of a precipitous descent was a small lake, which I judged 
to be one of the sources of the main San Joaquin. I had grown, by 
occasional privation, to look upon water as a jewel beyond price, 
and this was rendered even more beautiful by its rough setting. The 
great value to us of the first necessaries of life made a reason why 
we so seldom found gold or silver or other minerals. Ores of iron 
and copper, and gold and silver, and other minerals we found, but 
did not look for. A clear cold spring of running water or a good 
camp, big game, or fossils imbedded in rock, were among the 
prized objects of our daily life. Owens, after the discovery of the 
gold in California, reminded me that he had once on the American 
Fork noticed some little shining grains which he could see from 
his horse and which afterward we decided was gold, but we were 
not interested enough at the time to give it attention ; and Brecken- 
ridge too reminded me that he brought me in his hand some large 
grains which I carelessly told him were sulphurets of iron. These 
too were probably gold. As I said, this bed of summit granite was 
naked. Here and there a pine or two, stunted and twisted, and 
worried out of shape by the winds, and clamping itself to the rock. 
But immediately below we encamped in the sheltering pine woods 
which now were needed, for towards evening the weather threat- 
ened a change. The sky clouded over and by nightfall was a uniform 
dull gray, and early in the night the roar of the wind through the 
pines had at times the sound of a torrent. And the camp was 
gloomy. We had ridden hard, and toiled hard, and we were all 
disappointed and perplexed, wondering what had become of our 
people. During the night the Indians succeeded in killing one of 
our best mules. He had fed quietly into one of the little ravines, 
wooded with brush pines, just out of sight of the guard near by, 
and an Indian had driven an arrow nearly through his body. Ap- 
parently he died without sound or struggle, just as he was about to 
drink from the little stream. 

The next day, December 31st, I made a short camp, the catde 
being tender-footed and scarcely able to travel. To descend the 
mountain we chose a different way from that by which we had 
come up, but it was rocky and rough everywhere. The old year 
went out and the new year came in, rough as the country. Towards 
nightfall the snow began to come down thickly, and by morning 
all lay under a heavy fall. The chasms through which the rivers 
roared were dark against the snow, and the fir branches were all 


weighed down under their load. This was the end of the few re- 
maining cattle. It was impossible to drive them over the treacherous 
ground. The snow continued falling, changing the appearance of 
the ground and hiding slippery breaks and little rocky hollows, 
where horse and man would get bad falls. Left to themselves cattle 
could easily work their way to the lower grounds of the mountain 
if not killed by Indians. We had great trouble in getting out from 
the snow region. The mountain winter had now set in, and we 
had some misgivings as we rode through the forest, silent now with- 
out a sound except where we came within hearing of water roaring 
among rocks or muffled under snow. There were three ridges to 
surmount, but we succeeded in crossing them, and by sunset when 
the storm ceased we made a safe camp between 9000 and 10,000 
feet above the sea. The temperature at sunset when the sky had 
cleared was between eight and nine degrees. 

The next day we reached the oak region, where spring weather, 
rain and sunshine, were found again. At an elevation of 4500 feet 
the temperature at the night encampment of the 3d of January was 
38° at sunset and the same at sunrise; the grass green and growing 
freshly under the oaks. The snow line at this time reached down to 
about 6000 feet above the sea. On the 7th of January we encamped 
again on the Lake Fork in the San Joaquin valley. Our camp was 
in a grove of oaks at an Indian village, not far from the lake. These 
people recognized the horse of the Indian who had been killed 
among the hills the day after our encounter with the Horse-thief 
village, and which had been captured by the Delawares. It appeared 
that this Indian had belonged to their village and they showed un- 
friendly signs. But nothing took place during the day and at night 
I had a large oak at the camp felled. We were unencumbered and 
its spreading summit as it fell made a sufficient barricade in event 
of any sudden alerte. 

We found the temperature much the same as in December. Fogs, 
which rose from the lake in the morning, were dense, cold, and 
penetrating; but after a few hours these gave place to a fine day. 
The face of the country had already much improved by the rains 
which had fallen while we were travelling in the mountains. Several 
humble plants, among them the golden-flowered violet {viola chry- 
santha) and er odium cicutarium, the first valley flowers of the 
spring, and which courted a sunny exposure and warm sandy soil, 
were already in bloom on the southwestern hill slopes. In the foot- 


hills of the mountains the bloom of the flowers was earlier. Descend- 
ing the valley we travelled among multitudinous herds of elk, 
antelope, and wild horses. Several of the latter which we killed for 
food were found to be very fat. By the middle of January, when 
we had reached the lower San Joaquin, the new grass had covered 
the ground with green among the open timber upon the rich river 
bottoms, and the spring vegetation had taken a vigorous start. 

We had now searched the San Joaquin valley, up to the head- 
waters of the Tulare Lake Fork, and failed to find my party. They 
were too strong to have met with any serious accident and my con- 
clusion was that they had travelled slowly in order to give me time 
to make my round and procure supplies; the moderate travel serving 
meanwhile to keep their animals in good order, and from the 
moment they would have turned the point of the California Moun- 
tain the whole valley which they entered was alive with game- 
antelope and elk and bear and wild horses. Accounting in this way 
for their failure to meet me I continued on to Sutter's Fort, at which 
place I arrived on the 15th of the month, and remaining there four 
days I sailed on Sutter's launch for San Francisco, taking with me 
eight of my party. From Captain Sutter, who was a Mexican magi- 
strate, I had obtained a passport to Monterey for myself and my 
men. At Yerba Buena,"' as it was then called, I spent a few days, 
which Leidesdorff,-"" our vice-consul, and Captain Hinckley^^ made 
very agreeable to me. With Captain Hinckley I went to visit the 
quicksilver mine at New Almaden, going by water to please the 
captain. We were becalmed on the bay and made slow progress, 
failing in the night to find the entrance to the Alviso embarcadero 
and spending in consequence a chilled and dismal night in the open 
boat tied up to the rushes.'^" When the light came we found without 
difficulty the embarcadero, and the discomforts of the night were 
quickly forgotten in a fortifying breakfast. As may be supposed, the 
mineral being so rare, this visit to the quicksilver mine was very 
interesting. The owner, a Mexican of Mexico, who was also, I think, 
the discoverer, received us very agreeably and showed us over the 
mine and gave us all the specimens we were able to carry away 
from some heaps of the vermillion-colored ore which was being 
taken out.^^ At the time of our visit it could have been purchased 
for $30,000. While at Yerba Buena I wrote to Mrs. Fremont the fol- 
lowing letter, which sums up briefly the incidents of our journey so 


far, and gives something of the plans I had in my mind for the fu- 

MEMOIRS, 427-52. 

1. Richard L. Owings (1812-1902), more popularly known as Richard or 
Dick Owens, had been reared near Zanesville, Ohio. He went to the moun- 
tains in 1834 with Nathaniel Wyeth's second expedition and soon established 
a close friendship with Kit Carson. When the men of the third expedition 
became involved in the revolt in California, Owens became captain of Com- 
pany A in JCF's battalion. He later went to Washington as a witness in the 
court-martial, but he was not called to testify. He returned to Taos, and in 
Jan. 1849 JCF wrote to JBF, "Owens goes to Missouri in April to get married, 
and thence by water to California" (letter in bigelow, 372). Owens did 
neither. He did leave Taos, but after a short stay in Colorado he settled in 
Delaware County, Ind. In 1854 he married, and in 1872 he moved to Circle- 
ville, Kans., where he spent the rest of his life (carter [1] and 19 April 
1972 letter of Harvey L. Carter to the editors). 

2. Pike's capture had been on the Rio Conejos, a western affluent of the Rio 
Grande, not far north of the present Colorado-New Mexico border; it oc- 
curred south of JCF's position. 

In his diary, portions of which appeared in Life (6 April 1959), pp. 95- 
104, Edward M. Kern wrote that the party encamped at Hardscrabble on 
25 Aug. where they met Bill Williams. Williams must have joined the ex- 
pedition, for a voucher indicates that he was paid at Great Salt Lake (before 
the crossing of the desert) on 27 Oct. at the rate of $1 per day for services as 
a guide from 28 Aug. 

3. In his entry of 2 Sept. Kern also mentions encountering several bands of 

4. JCF crossed the Grand [Colorado] River to the upper White, which led 
him down the Green River. Crossing the Green, he went up the Duchesne 
River, which he calls the Uinta on his map; today the name Uinta is applied 
to a northern affluent of the Duchesne. He then ascended the upper 
Duchesne, crossed a northeastern extension of the Wasatch Mountains, and 
followed the Provo River down to Utah Lake. From here the party moved to 
the present site of Salt Lake City. 

5. Entitled "Carte generale du royaume de la Nouvelle Espagne . . . ," 
Baron Alexander von Humboldt's map of New Spain was first published in 
the Atlas geographique et physiqiie de royaume de la N ouvelle-Espagne in 
Paris in 1811. For the northern portion of his map the German scientist 
relied heavily upon the cartography of Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco, who 
had mapped the 1776 expedition of Fray Francisco Atanasio Dominguez and 
Fray Silvestre Velez de Escalante to the upper Colorado River basin and the 
Utah Valley. Lake Timpanogos on the Miera map, and consequently on 
the Humboldt map, resembles Salt Lake but is actually Utah Lake, which the 
missionary friars discovered. The Indian villages which they visited were on 
the Provo River east of Utah Lake and north of the city of Provo. A chapter 
on the Dominguez-Escalante expedition and a partial chapter on Humboldt 
and his use of the Miera data may be found in c. i. wheat, vol. 1; a transla- 
tion of Escalante's journal and a colored copy of Miera's map may be found 
in BOLTON, along with a historical introduction. 


6. Although JCF places this particular episode near Grantsville, it prob- 
ably occurred in Skull Valley because of the character of the "run" (korns, 

7. His 1848 map shows that he rounded the Oquirrh Mountains, camped 
at the springs of present-day Grantsville, then circled the Stansbury Moun- 
tains into Skull Valley before setting off across the Salt Desert. 

8. Somewhere on the White River Joseph Reddeford Walker had joined the 
party as a guide (Talbot to Adelaide Talbot, 24 July 1846, DLC — Talbot 
Papers). In spite of JCF's statement that Walker knew nothing of the coun- 
try confronting them, he must have been able to supply some information. 
In 1833 he had become lost in this region, and after much suffering he and 
his party had reached the head of the Humboldt and followed it to its sink. 
A bit later (p. 23) JCF admits that Walker was well acquainted with the 
country east of the Sierra. 

9. Probably a reference to a preliminary movement across Skull Valley to 
Redlum Spring, where JCF camped before crossing the Cedar Mountains 
(korns, 14). 

10. JCF must have reached a point beyond Grayback Mountain, or the fire 
would have been of no service in guiding Archambeault back across the 
desert (korns, 15). 

11. It was in the next year — 1846 — that emigrant caravans took the desert 
route that came to be known as the Hastings Cutoff. Lansford W. Hastings, 
author of The Emigrants' Guide to Oregon and California (Cincinnati, 1845), 
probably met JCF at Sutter's Fort in Jan. 1846 and learned of the explorer's 
shortcut to California. In a few months he went east across the Sierra Nevada 
and, with the help of James M. Hudspeth and James Clyman, picked up the 
Walker-JCF trail where it intersected the emigrant road coming from Fort 
Hall on the Humboldt River. They followed it across the desert and 
eventually reached Fort Bridger on Blacks Fork. Clyman went on to St. 
Louis, but Hudspeth and Hastings waited for the westward-bound emigrants 
and were successful in persuading a number of emigrant groups to take the 
desert shortcut to California. Hudspeth conducted the mounted WiUiam H. 
Russell party as far as Skull Valley; Hastings took the Harlan-Young party 
down the steep canyons of the Weber and across the desert all the way to 
California. The Donner party, some days behind the Harlan- Young wagon 
train, attempted to follow, but Hastings sent back a message advising that 
they cut a road across the Wasatch. Their progress was so slow and their 
difficulties so great that they were caught by snow in the Sierra Nevada and 
reduced to starvation and cannibalism. Following the Donner tragedy, the 
Hastings Cutoff was discredited, but the gold rush fever of 1849 brought it 
into general use again. For some biographical details on Hastings, see 
ANDREWS [1] and [2]. 

12. JCF does not make much of his feat of crossing the desert. It was ac- 
complished late in October, and his party was mounted. But emigrants, 
crossing in late summer and making fifteen miles a day with heavy-laden 
wagons and oxen, suffered incredibly. 

13. From the east base of Pilot Butte, the expedition traveled in a south- 
westerly direction and probably camped at the spring on the north side of 
Morris Basin (clyman, 330). 

14. Whitton Spring, named after Jesse W. Whitton, is present Mound 
Springs or nearby Chase Springs in Independence Valley. 


15. Before JCF put this name on his map, it was known as Mary's or 
Ogden's River. 

16. According to Talbot's letter to his mother of 24 July 1846 (DLC — Talbot 
Papers) he was in charge of the main body, and according to Edward M. 
Kern the division of the party took place on 5 Nov. at Mound Springs — not 
after 8 Nov. on the waters of the Humboldt as is implied here (see Doc. 
No. 5). 

17. JCF wrote Jessie from Yerba Buena, 24 Jan. 1846, that his volunteer 
party consisted of fifteen. 

18. JCF's route from northeastern Nevada to Walker Lake had been roughly 
a diagonal one, and the table of latitudes and longitudes in the Geographical 
Memoir of 1848 permits a fairly easy tracing. After dividing his party, he 
led his own detachment south and west. Passing south of Franklin Lake, he 
went into Ruby Valley and across the Humboldt [Ruby] Mountains, prob- 
ably by Harrison Pass. The camp of 8 Nov. was on Crane's branch, un- 
doubtedly Twin Creek, an affluent of the south fork of the Humboldt. Pro- 
ceeding south over tortuous ground, he went through Ruby Pass into 
Diamond Valley and camped on 11 Nov. at Conner Spring, named after 
one of his Delawares, James Connor. Continuing a southwest course, he 
skirted the Monitor Range and crossed the Toquima Range into Big Smoky 
Valley. Following along the east side of the Toiyabe Mountains, he rounded 
them at the southern end and proceeded to the east shore of Walker Lake, 
crossing two more low ranges on the way. fletcher, 435-38, mack, 100-101, 
and KEVINS & morgan, xxvii-xxviii, also note in detail JCF's route across the 
Great Basin. 

19. For the route of the main party, see Doc. No. 5, pp. 48-63. 

20. This pass, which came to be known as Donner Pass, was first used by 
the California emigrants of 1844. See note 11 above for the Donner party 
in 1846. 

21. Named for Aaron Hamilton, one of the few voyageurs who made the 
round trip to California with JCF. He was paid off in St. Louis in 1847. 

22. NEW HELVETIA DIARY notes JCF's arrival on 10 Dec. 

23. Francisco de la Guerra (1818-78), son of the wealthy, cultivated, and 
influential Jose de la (luerra y Noriega, would serve as mayor of Santa 
Barbara for several years after 1851. 

24. After the American conquest of California, Pedro Carrillo, son-in-law 
of Juan Bandini, was made collector at San Pedro, San Diego, and finally at 
Santa Barbara, where he also became alcalde. He was elected a member of 
the CaHfornia legislature in 1853, and in 1884 he unsuccessfully sought the 
position of register in the Los Angeles Land Office (rieder). 

25. Between 1834 and 1836 the twenty-one California missions were secular- 
ized and their lands gradually divicled among the private ranchos. By 
Governor Figueroa's proclamation of 9 Aug. 1834 half the property was sup- 
posed to go to the Indians, but even if a few of them did procure land, they 
retained it for only a few years. Some found employment on private ranchos 
or in the towns. Many sank into vice and drunkenness. Others left the 
coastal areas to live with Indian tribes in the interior. As for the Franciscan 
fathers, many remained at the mission churches to continue their religious 
duties (bean, 62-68; servin). 

26. Walker mistook the Kern for the "Lake Fork" of the Tulares and 
halted there. 

27. It was while at Yerba Buena in Jan. 1846 that JCF bestowed the name of 


Chrysopylae or Golden Gate upon the strait uniting the Bay of San Francisco 
with the Pacific Ocean, "on the same principle that the harbor of Byzantium 
(Constantinople afterwards) was called Chrysoceras (golden horn)." See 
FREMONT [3], 32n. 

28. William Alexander Leidesdorff (1810-48) had been appointed U.S. vice- 
consul in Oct. 1845 by Thomas Oliver Larkin. The son of a Danish father 
and a mulatto mother, he had grown up in the Danish West Indies and had 
come to California in 1841 as master of the Julia Ann, sometimes called 
simply the ]ulia. He obtained Mexican citizenship and a reputation as a 
prominent businessman and real estate owner (r. e. cowan). 

29. Massachusetts-born William Sturgis Hinckley was a Mexican official — 
captain of the port of San Francisco. He dated his permanent residence in 
California from 1840, although for many years before that time he had been 
trading in and out of California ports. Ironically, by dying in June 1846, 
Hinckley managed to escape arrest by JCF's men. 

30. The Alviso embarcadero was at the head of the navigable slough that 
extends south from San Francisco Bay. In early mission days it was called 
the Embarcadero de Santa Clara de Asis and had played an important part in 
the life of the settlers at Mission Santa Clara and Pueblo de San Jose. The 
development of the quicksilver mines at New Almaden and the discovery of 
gold at Coloma were to stimulate anew Alviso's shipping industry (abeloe, 

31. The owner, Don Andres Castillero, had discovered the New Almaden in 
1845. JCF defied Gen. Jose Castro a few weeks after his visit to the mine, and 
Castillero was sent to Mexico to reiterate the danger of the American menace 
and to speed up military measures for California. For a history of the mine, 
see JOHNSON [2]; for Castillero's activities as a diplomat before 1845, see 
TAYS [1]. 

4. Fremont to Jessie B. Fremont 

Yerba Buena, January 24, 1846 

I crossed the Rocky Mountains on the main Arkansas, passing 
out at its very head-water; explored the southern shore of the Great 
Salt Lake, and visited one of its islands. You know that on every 
extant map, manuscript or printed, the whole of the Great Basin is 
represented as a sandy plain, barren, without water, and without 
grass. Tell your father that, with a volunteer party of fifteen men, 
I crossed it between the parallels of 38° and 39°. Instead of a plain, 
I found it, throughout its whole extent, traversed by parallel ranges 
of lofty mountains, their summits white with snow (October) while 
below, the valleys had none. Instead of a barren country, the moun- 
tains were covered with grasses of the best quality, wooded with 


several varieties of trees, and containing more deer and mountain 
sheep than we had seen in any previous part of our voyage. So 
utterly at variance with every description, from authentic sources, 
or from rumor or report, it is fair to consider this country as hitherto 
wholly unexplored, and never before visited by a white man. I met 
my party at the rendezvous, a lake southeast of the Pyramid Lake; 
and again separated, sending them along the eastern side of the 
Great Sierra, three or four hundred miles in a southerly direction, 
where they were to cross into the valley of the San Joaquin, near 
its head. During all the time that I was not with them, Mr. Joseph 
Walker was their guide, Mr. Talbot in charge, and Mr. Kern the 
topographer. The eleventh day after leaving them I reached Captain 
Sutter's, crossing the Sierra on the 4th December, before the snow 
had fallen there. Now, the Sierra is absolutely impassable, and the 
place of our passage two years ago is luminous with snow. By the 
route I have explored I can ride in thirty-five days from the Fo?itaine 
qui Bouit River to Captain Sutter's; and, for wagons, the road is 
decidedly far better. 

I shall make a short journey up the eastern branch of the Sacra- 
mento, and go from the Tlamath Lake into the Wahlahmath valley, 
through a pass alluded to in my report; in this way making the 
road into Oregon far shorter, and a good road in place of the pres- 
ent very bad one down the Columbia. When I shall have made this 
short exploration, I shall have explored from the beginning to end 
this road to Oregon. 

I have just returned with my party of sixteen from an exploring 
journey in the Sierra Nevada, from the neighborhood of Sutter's to 
the heads of the Lake Fork. We got among heavy snows on the 
mountain summits; they were more rugged than I had elsewhere 
met them; suffered again as in our first passage; got among the 
'Horse-thieves' (Indians who lay waste the California frontier), 
fought several, and fought our way down into the plain again and 
back to Sutter's. Tell your father that I have something handsome 
to tell him of some exploits of Carson and Dick Owens, and others. 

I am now going on business to see some gentlemen on the coast, 
and will then join my people, and complete our survey in this part 
of the world as rapidly as possible. The season is now just arriving 
when vegetation is coming out in all the beauty I have often de- 
scribed to you; and in that part of my labors I shall gratify all my 
hopes. I find the theory of our Great Basin fully confirmed in 


having for its southern boundary ranges of lofty mountains. The 
Sierra, too, is broader where this chain leaves it than in any other 
part that I have seen. So soon as the proper season comes, and my 
animals are rested, we turn our faces homeward, and be sure that 
grass will not grow under our feet. 

All our people are well, and we have had no sickness of any kind 
among us; so that I hope to be able to bring back with me all that 
I carried out. Many months of hardships, close trials, and anxieties 
have tried me severely, and my hair is turning gray before its time. 
But all this passes, et le bon temps vicfidra [and good times will 
soon be here]. 

Excerpt, first printed in Niles' National Register, 70 (16 May 1846) :161, 
and later in the memoirs, 452-53. 

5. Journal of Edward M. Kern of an Exploration 

of the Mary's or Humboldt River, Carson Lake, 

and Owens River and Lake, in 1845 

Washington, September 10, 1860. 

Sir: In compliance with your request for information regarding 
a portion of the route pursued by the expedition to the Rocky 
Mountains and California under command of Capt. J. C. Fremont, 
in the year 1845, I inclose you a copy of my journal, which you are 
at liberty, if it will be in any way serviceable to you, to make such 
use of as you may think fit. Truly, your obedient servant, 

Edw. M. Kern. 
Capt. J. H. Simpson, 
U.S. Corps Topographical Engineers. 

[5 Nov. 1845-15 Feb. 1846] 

November 5, 1845. — Whitten's Spring [Mound or Chase Springs]. 
To-day we parted company, the captain passing to the southward 
with a small party, to examine that portion of the Great Basin sup- 
posed to be a desert, lying between the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky 


Mountains. The main body of the camp, under the guidance of Mr. 
Joseph Walker, are to move toward the head of Mary's or Ogden's 
[Humboldt] River, and down that stream to its sink or lake. From 
thence to Walker's Lake, where we are again to meet. I am to ac- 
company the latter party in charge of the topography, &c. Crossing 
the [Pequop] mountains near our camp, we arrived about 1 o'clock 
p.m. at several springs of excellent water. These springs spread into 
a large marsh, furnishing an abundant supply of good grass for the 
animals. On the 6th, owing to a severe snow-storm, we were obliged 
to remain in camp. Having no timber but a few green cedars, fires 
were not very abundant. 

On the 7th we commenced our ascent by a steep and rocky road. 
The snow was falling lightly when we started, but before we reached 
the summit, we were nearly blinded by the storm. ^ A short descent 
brought us into a pleasant valley, well watered by several small 
streams, and timbered with aspen and cottonwood. This is, really, 
a beautiful spot, surrounded by high mountains, those on the west 
covered with snow. Crossing a low range of hills, we entered an- 
other valley, that takes its waters from the snowy mountains on 
either side. The stream, after winding among the grass-covered 
hills, emerges into a plain, through which we could see Ogden's 
River flowing. Walker has give this creek the name of Walnut 
Creek, from one of his trappers having brought into his camp a 
twig of that tree found near its head; a tree scarcely known so far 
west as this. Camped on Walnut Creek, having made 14| miles 

November 8. — At about 6 miles from our camp of last night, we 
struck Ogden's River. It is about 25 feet wide here and about 2 feet 
deep, with a tolerable current. Crossing without difficulty, we struck 
the emigrant wagon-trail." Continuing down it for a few miles, we 
encamped a little below where the river receives a tributary of con- 
siderable size, coming from the northwest. Made to-day about 14 

November 9. — Still on the emigrant trail. This has proved of 
great assistance to our tired animals; they appear to have new life. 
Met to-day several Sho-sho-nee Indians, who report three separate 
parties of emigrants having passed this fall. About four miles above 
our camp of to-night are some hot springs [Elko], too hot to bear 
one's hand in. Walnut Creek empties into the river about H miles 
below our camp. Made 19 miles. 

November 10. — Crossed the river several times. At one point, the 


high, rocky ridges that bound the bottom came so close to the banks 
of the river, we were obHged to pass in the water. The timber is 
principally cottonwood. 

November 11. — We left the river to avoid a bend it makes. As- 
cending some grassy hills, encamped at several springs. Bunch-grass 
plenty; 11 miles. 

November 12. — Continued among the hills for about five miles, 
when we again struck the river. The country is becoming more 
open. The hills on the right make a wide sweep from the river, re- 
turning to it again at our camp of this evening, November 13. On 
the left bank the mountains are close and high and rugged in their 
character. Near our camp on this bank they make a bend forming 
a valley, through which one would suppose the river to flow. The 
character of the rocks is changing; more bold, basaltic. 

The river presents but little variety, always the same winding, 
crooked stream. On the 23d November, we arrived at the [Hum- 
boldt] sink or lake. This lake is about 8 miles long by 2 in width; 
it is marshy, overgrown with bulrushes, at the upper end. On the 
eastern side is a range of low hills at the upper, and increasing in 
height at the lower end of the lake. On the western side is a level 
plain of clay mixed with sand. The country here becomes more 
desolate in its appearance. We have been fifteen days on this river, 
making a distance of nearly 200 miles. The grass has been generally 
good. The only timber is a few cottonwood trees and willows; the 
latter are in great abundance on its banks, though very small. The 
river-bottoms vary from 4 to 20 miles in width. Vegetation failing 
as we approach the sink, the soil becoming more sandy and sterile. 
The Indians we first met were better clad than one would suppose; 
having also a few horses among them. As we approached the sink, 
however, they appeared much more indigent and shy, hiding from 
us on our approach; raising smokes and other signs of warning to 
their friends of the approach of strangers. They belong to the Ban- 
nack tribe of Diggers, and are generally badly disposed toward the 
whites. Walker was attacked some two [twelve] years since by a 
party of them numbering, he thought, near 600; these he defeated 
without loss to his own party. The loss on the part of the Indians 
numbered 16.'^ Walker was engaged at that time exploring for a 
route into California, through the Sierra Nevada. 

A curious feature of this river is the number of small streams near 
its banks and immediately in its bed. We tried the temperature of 


one on the 10th instant with a thermometer graduated to 160°, to 
which point the mercury rose in a few seconds. From its situation, 
forming as it does a long line of travel of the emigrant parties, this 
river will soon become an interesting and noted point in this now 
great wilderness. Portions of its immediate bottoms may be capable 
of cultivation; but the bare, sandy bluffs that surround or border it, 
produce little save bunch-grass, and no timber. Great numbers of 
ducks and geese are to be found in this region. A small gray duck 
is of excellent flavor. Provisions becoming scarce. Leaving our camp 
of the 24th November, on the outlet of the lake, we crossed a low, 
gravelly ridge, mixed with heavy sand, for 4 or 5 miles; we then 
struck a level plain resembling the dry bed of a lake, extending to a 
low range of hills on the western side 10 or 12 miles distant, and 
from 20 to 25 miles on the eastern side, running in a northeasterly 
direction, and continuing east of Ogden's or Mary's Lake, probably 
connecting with some of the high ranges visible from the river on 
the 18th and 19th. As on the plains on the western side of the Great 
Salt Lake, the incrustation yielded to the tread of our horses. Noth- 
ing can appear worse then the surrounding country; the glare of 
the white sand, relieved only by the rugged distant mountains, the 
absence of animal and vegetable life, make up a whole in the way 
of dreariness and desolation. 

The outlet of Ogden's Lake, after running several miles toward 
the rim of this basin, forms a large marsh in the midst of the sand- 
hills. Our animals failing, we encamped among the sand-hills, with- 
out grass or water. 

November 25. — A couple of hours' ride this morning brought us 
to the outlet of another lake [Carson Lake], where we encamped, 
having ridden twenty-five miles. The water in this stream is run- 
ning, but is indifferently good. The banks are from 8 to 10 feet high; 
growth willow. Sand-hills on either side. On the east runs a low 
rocky range, beyond which are ridges and peaks of higher moun- 
tains. About eight miles below us this stream forms a large marsh, 
hidden from us by sand-hills. Walker tells me that its waters are 
extremely disagreeable. I found skulls of the natives killed here by 
Walker's partv some ten | twelve] years since. The emigrants turn 
toward the California Mountains from the sink of Ogden's River. 
After a noon halt and rest to our animals, we crossed and continued 
down the river, camping near the lake. 

November 26. — In a southeasterlv direction nine miles along the 


border of the lake. For 30 or 40 yards about its edge in width is a 
thick growth of bulrushes. It is a very pretty sheet of water; various 
kinds of fowl in abundance. The greatest length is about 11 miles. 
On the eastern side runs a low range of burnt rock hills. The lake 
is bounded on the west by a low range of mountains ; about midway 
on the western side a stream [Carson River] enters it. Slightly tim- 
bered; probably cottonwood. 

November 27. — In a southern course, over a level for about 3 
miles, then crossing a low ridge of sand and burnt rock down an 
open ravine, leading into a larger plain, we made camp among the 
sand-hills, at some Indian wells of bad water, thoroughly impreg- 
nated with sulphur. These wells, with a little trouble, could be 
made a good watering-place; but, as they now are, it was with 
greatest difficulty that we could procure a sufficiency for our ani- 
mals. There was plenty of good bunch-grass about camp; no fuel but 
greasewood. Continuing our route over low, heavy sand-hills, we 
rejoined Captain Fremont at our place of rendezvous. Walker's 
Lake. He had reached that point four days ahead of us, having 
traveled over a mountainous country, finding in his route plenty of 
grass, water, game, and Indians; the latter very shy, not being ac- 
customed to the sight of white men in their desolate country. The 
river of Walker's Lake is a fine, bold stream, 30 to 40 feet wide, with 
considerable current, timbered with fine large cottonwoods, its bot- 
toms covered with a luxuriant growth of grass, wild peas, and 
rushes. We had anticipated a glorious feast of fish on our arrival 
at this point, from the glowing descriptions Walker had given us of 
great quantities of fine salmon-trout which frequent the river and 
lake. In this, however, we were doomed to disappointment. The 
fishing season being over, "Carro hoggi" was the only reply we 
could obtain to our many signs and inquiries after the finny tribe 
from the few Indians that still lingered about the lake. 

To-morrow (November 29) Captain Fremont leaves us again, 
this time to take his old trail of 1843, while the main body of camp 
will continue down the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada, which 
Walker had discovered when exploring this section of the country 
some 10 years ago. We will remain here 9 or 10 days to recruit our 
animals, as many of them are exhausted. 

December 8. — Once more took up our line of march. During our 
stay at our camp on Walker's River the weather has been clear and 
cold. Thermometer at sunset 23° above zero, and at sunrise 4°. The 


river frozen hard ; it has been a strange mixture of winter and sum- 
mer. The Indians are of much lower grade than any I have yet seen. 
They are, however, very friendlv. I visited some of their huts near 
the mouth of the river. Thev had some very pretty decoy-ducks, 
made from the skin of those birds, neatlv stretched over a bulrush 
float. There were four or five old women hovering over a fire of a 
few willow twigs of six or eight inches in length. I thought if the 
personification of witches ever existed, these were of them. Their 
withered bodies, almost entirelv naked and emaciated, their faces 
smeared with dirt and tar, the dull, idiotic stare of their eyes, 
trembling from cold and dread of our intentions toward them, ren- 
dered them to me the most pitiable objects I had ever seen. A couple 
of children, nestling close to the fire, showed more the signs of 
wonder in their countenances than fear. Some of these children, 
notwithstanding the hardships of their lives, only dependent on 
grass-seeds and the few fish they can catch, any large game being 
unknown hereabouts, have really lively and interesting counte- 
nances; but the expression leaves them with youth; their future, 
being one of continued privation, soon dulls the light of the eye, and 
the face becomes heavy and stolid in expression. It was at this camp 
we have made our first essay on horse-meat. Throwing aside all 
antipathies I, with the others, enjoyed our meal. On this river, with 
but a couple of exceptions, is the onlv large timber we have met 
since leaving the Timpanogos. Traveling three miles on the river 
and about twelve on the shores of the lake, we made our camp 
among some low sand-hills. A range of burnt rock hills extends a 
few miles further back, while on the opposite side of the lake the 
dark mountains come bluff to the water's edge. No fuel but grease- 
wood and grass. We longed heartily for the fires of our last ten-days' 
camp, the weather being excessively cold. 

December 9. — Camped near the head of the lake. No grass; the 
water exceedingly bad and salty. Charley, (our cook) to improve( ?) 
the already horrid taste given to our coffee by the bad water, added 
some greasewood or other noxious weed, giving it a flavor too un- 
savory even for appetites as keen-set as ours. This lake is about 
twenty-two miles in length, and eleven or twelve in the widest part. 
To the eastward of our camp runs a valley. About twelve miles 
down it Walker says he found springs of good water and an 
abundance of good grass, the springs forming a small lake. To-night 
the horses, driven to desperation by their bad fare, a large number 


of them eluding the vigilance of the guard escaped to the other side 
of the lake, where they were found in the morning, having discov- 
ered somewhat better grass than we had at our camp. 

December 10. — Leaving camp we traveled up a valley leading 
from the southern end of Walker's Lake, a little east of south; at 
about eight miles we crossed a low ridge, heavy sand and scattering 
bunch-grass. Traveling up the general direction of a ravine, in a 
southeasterly course for about six miles, we made camp late at some 
springs near the foot of a basaltic rock ridge. 

December 11. — Continued our route down the valley in a south- 
erly direction. Walker's trail of two years ago passed to the left of 
our camp three or four miles. Passed several wells dug by the In- 
dians, but they were dry. Also, a large corral or pen made of sage 
and cedars for the purpose of ensnaring deer. Continued about six 
miles into the mountains by a rough and broken road. Were unable 
to find water. In the evening we encamped among some of the 
largest sage I have ever seen. This gave us an abundance of fuel, and 
also served us in constructing pens about our different campfires as 
a protection from the cold. We soon forgot in slumber our lack of 
water. Here we killed our last beef, if what was left of the animal 
could be dignified by such a name. 

December 12. — To-day we obtained a fine view of the great Sierra 
Nevada from the far north till it faded on the distant horizon far 
to the south of us. This bold and rocky barrier, with its rugged 
peaks, separates us from the valley of California. We are to travel 
along its base till by its lessening height it will offer but a slight ob- 
stacle to our passage across it. To the southeast and east of us moun- 
tain rises beyond mountain as far as the eye can see. Descending by 
a break-neck road we reached, toward evening, a small valley, where 
we made camp. We found a portion of the sand leveled very smooth 
and some willow hoops lying about, with fresh signs to convince us 
that the place had not long been vacated by a party of Indians. 

December 13. — Still among the burnt rock hills, interspersed with 
grassy valleys. Descending into a large, open, grassy valley, we fed 
upon the dry bed of a stream that has both wood and water six or 
seven miles farther up. Camped at a large spring that spreads into 
a marsh. 

December 14. — Traveled down the same valley. Water rises and 
sinks, breaking through a rocky ridge to the east; rising again in 
several cold springs at the entrance of the gap, runs a short distance 


and forms a stinking lake. Crossing the ridge by an Indian trail, we 
came into another valley watered by a fine warm stream, in which 
I took a delightful bath. Good grass and plenty — quite a treat for 
our tired animals. The boys brought in some roots they had found 
near a couple of Indian huts, the inmates having fled at their ap- 
proach. The root was of some water-plant of good flavor. They were 
plaited together in ropes, something after the manner of doing up 
onions at home. Our old cook at fault again to-day, boiling a large 
piece of rosin soap in our coffee. Rather unlucky just now, when 
cofiFee is coffee. 

December 15. — The same water of yesterday still finds its way 
into another valley more to the east. We crossed into this. Its 
greatest length is from north to south. On the eastern side is a high 
chain of mountains, about the height of those on eastern side of 
Utah Lake. The mountains throw out some small streams, which 
sink before they fairly reach the valley. The road in the forenoon of 
to-day broken and sandy. We have gained four days on Walker's 
route of 1843, from camp of December 10 to this place. A better 
route lies to the right of our road. 

December 16. — To-day struck Owen's River. It is a fine, bold 
stream, larger than Walker's. The same chain of mountains bounds 
it on the east, while on the western side rises, like a wall, the main 
chain of the California Mountains. Our rations are becoming ex- 
tremely scant. The men being all on foot, they feel their appetites 
much quickened by the additional exercise of walking. A few more 
days we hope will bring us to the land of plenty. 

December 17 and 18. — Still on the river; obliged to keep some 
distance from it on account of a large marsh. Wild-fowl in abun- 
dance. Walker went in search of some salt, which he found, in- 
crusted to the thickness of a quarter of an inch on the surface of 
the earth. The Indians are numerous here, though they keep out 
of sight. They are badly disposed. Colonel Childs [Joseph B. Chiles] 
had trouble with them here. They shot one of his men. Walker's 
party killed some twenty-five of them, while on his side some of 
his men were wounded and eight or nine horses killed."* 

December 19. — Camped on [Owens] lake near the mouth of river. 
Grass poor. Ducks and geese plentiful. 

December 20. — Traveling down the lake. Main California Moun- 
tains close on our right within half a mile of us. This lake is some- 
what irregular in its shape, lying north and south; is about fifteen 


miles long, the widest part about seven miles. On the western side 
there are several capes. It is surrounded by high mountains. Water 
strong, disagreeable, salty, nauseous taste. There are Indian fires 
among the rocks within half a mile of us. None ventured nearer. 
They appear to be well supplied with horses, judging from the 
quantity of sign. Along the route of to-day we crossed several streams 
coming from the mountains, some of them dry; all slightly timbered 
with Cottonwood. 

December 21. — Leaving lower end of lake, we passed among some 
sandy hollows, falling into a larger ravine leading south. Passing a 
good camp for grass and water, the hollow narrowed, bounded by 
hills of minutely broken black rock, opening afterward into a large 
plain; camped at some springs on the slope of the main California 
Mountains; grass, fresh and green, owing to the late rains. To-day 
we met for the first time the yuca [Joshua] tree, nicknamed by the 
men "Jeremiah," in lieu of some better title. These trees have a 
grotesque appearance, a straight trunk, guarded about its base by 
long bayonet-shaped leaves; its irregular and fantastically shaped 
limbs give to it the appearance of an ancient candelabra. It bears 
a beautiful white flower. We passed to-day Child's [Walker's] cache, 
where, on account of his animals failing, he was obliged to bury 
the contents of his wagons, among which was a complete set of mill- 

December 22.— Passed to-day a salt-lake, half a mile long and 
about 200 yards wide; leaving this, we turned up a large hollow, for 
about four miles, to find a camp. At this point there may be a pass 
over the mountains, judging from the number of Indian trails join- 
ing together here. The ascent, however, is very steep, and it was 
judged advisable not to attempt it, our animals not being in a con- 
dition to undergo any such experiments. So we continued our route 
in a southerly direction, among the foot-hills of the mountains. 

December 23 and 24.— Still among the hills. On the 23d, a mule 
was lost, with its pack. Archambeau[lt], Stradspeth [Benjamin M. 
Hudspeth], and [James T.] White were sent back in search of it; 
returned on the evening of the 24th, with the animal. The mule 
was loaded with, to us, a very valuable cargo, sugar and coffee, with 
some of the "possibles," of Stradspeth and White. The mule had 
wandered up one of the many ravines in the hillsides. When the 
Indians were discovered, they were sitting very coolly among the 
rocks, where they had driven the mule, dividing the spoils; there 


were three of them. Of the sugar they had made a just division, but 
the coffee was to them perfectly useless. They had already charred 
and pounded it, without coming to any satisfactory conclusion as to 
its use. The "possibles" shared the same fate as the eatables. Among 
the articles a blanket and an overcoat. Being three in their party, 
and being unable to divide these things equally in any other way, 
one had taken the blanket, and tearing the coat in two, gave a half 
of it to each of the others. On our men showing themselves, they 
fled precipitately, leaving the property behind. Collecting and rear- 
ranging the pack, the men started for camp, bringing with them, 
as proof of their victory, some bows and arrows, a large sack of sage- 
seed, about as digestible as sand, and a small sack of some com- 
pound, which we could not make out; it was very palatable with 
coffee, of a dark chocolate color.* 

Our Christmas was spent in a most unchristmas-like manner. 
Our camp was made on the slope of the mountain, at some Indian 
wells of good water. The yuca tree is here in great abundance, fur- 
nishing us a plentiful supply of fuel. The camp-fires blazed and 
cracked joyously, the only merry things about us, and all that had 
any resemblance to that merry time at home. The animals, on ac- 
count of grass, were guarded about a quarter of a mile from camp, 
higher up the mountain. 

December 25. — Christmas day opened clear and warm. We made 
our camp to-day at some springs among the rocks; but little grass 
for our animals. Dined to-day, by way of a change, on one of our 
tired, worn mules, instead of a horse. 

Turning from our camp of the 25th into the mountain by an easy 
ascent, and over a somewhat broken road, arriving on the 27th, 
on the head-waters of a river.f Continuing down this stream, on 
the 28th we made camp at its forks. This is the appointed place of 
rendezvous. There are no signs yet of the Captain. Our provisions 
have entirely failed; save the few remaining horses of our cavallada, 
there was not much prospect of obtaining fresh supplies. To have 
killed these would have been to deprive us of the means of transpor- 
tation of our effects and the results of the expedition, in case we 

* I have seen the same dish among the Indians of California; it is prepared 
from roasted grasshoppers and large crickets, pounded up, and mixed with, 
when procurable, some kind of animal grease. 

t Now called Kern River. 


are not joined by Captain Fremont in this place. A party of Indians 
visited our camp, from whom we traded a colt. The hunters brought 
in a few small deer, the meat extremely poor. A small piece of veni- 
son, with as much cold water as one could drink, furnished break- 
fast, dinner, and supper in one. We became reduced to acorns, and 
on this swinish food made our New-Year's feast. This forms the 
principal food of the natives, here and in the valley. Our camp is 
situated in a beautiful valley, about six miles in length, and well- 
timbered with pine, cedars, and cottonwood, while the mountains 
which surround it are of the usual growth of the Sierra, the majestic 
redwood, &c. The river is a bold stream, coming from the northeast. 
The Indians inhabiting this region are of the most degraded class, 
entirely naked, and with scarcely a sufficiency of food to sustain 
life. I was amused at coming suddenly on a half a dozen of these 
characters; being armed, they, probably having a dread of pistols, 
immediately commenced crossing themselves in the most devout 
manner, at the same time muttering "Christiano, Christiano," the 
probable extent of their Spanish, hoping to avert any evil intent we 
might have had toward them. 

Since leaving Walker's Lake we have traveled through a country 
having a few pretty spots, but for the most part a sandy waste, 
broken by short chains and isolated mountains. Bunch-grass is found 
among most of the sand-hills. Water, save in the rivers, is not to be 
had in anything like a sufficiency. Piiion and willow are the princi- 
pal timbers. From our camp of December 26, toward the south, as 
far as the eye could reach, lay a continued plain of sand, relieved 
only by an occasional hill of burnt rock rearing itself above the 
level, adding, if possible, to the desolation of the scene, with no 
game, save now and then a hare, and perchance a stray goat.^ Liz- 
ards are here in abundance, and form the principal food of the 
hungry natives. At our camp the weather has been extremely fine, 
warm, and sunshine. On the 13th of January there was a severe 
storm of snow and sleet; a shower followed that soon removed all 
appearance of winter from the valley, but the mountains retained 
this, their first winter covering. 

Januarv 18, 1846.— Raised camp and traveled about five miles 
into the mountains, stopping for the night at the hunter's camp, in 
a pretty valley; snow about two feet deep. An abundance of the most 
beautiful timber, live-oak, pine, redwood, &c. 

January 19.— To-day we reached the summit; snow 2i feet deep. 


From here we had the first view of the much-wished-for Valley of 
California. It lay beneath us, bright in the sunshine, gay and green, 
while about us everything was clothed in the chilly garb of winter. 

On the 21st January we reached the valley; our descent was rough 
and broken; the mountain well watered and densely timbered. 
Among the foot-hills are beautiful groves of live and other oaks, 
clear from growth of underwood; the fine grass gives the country 
the appearance of a well-kept park.*' We passed two Indian villages; 
the huts were built of tule or bulrush. The men entirely naked ; the 
only covering the women possessed was a kind of petticoat made of 
tule. The country is much cut up by gullies. The weather is warm 
like spring, the young grass and some few flowers just putting forth. 
Notice a small blue flower particularly very abundant. 

Crossing several small streams that find their way into the great 
Tulare Lake, we encamped, on the evening of the 26th of January, 
on a fine bold stream.* The whole country is well watered, and 
capable of high cultivation. Oaks and willows in abundance. The 
river heads in the Sierra Nevada, running in a west, a little south, 
and then in a southerly direction. Walker thinking to make a cut- 
off at the bend, we were obliged to spend a most uncomfortable 
night at some holes of water, amid a storm of cold rain, with no fuel 
save a few willows. 

January 28. — After searching in vain for the river, we camped, at 
9 o'clock at night, among the foot-hills of the Coast range, without 
grass, water, or fire, having traveled through immense fields of old 
tule, the horses sinking at almost every step as deep as their bellies; 
having to be hauled out only to sink again, owing to the loose rotten 
soil. This has been the most tedious day we have had since we 
entered the valley, and particularly trying to our animals in their 
present weak state. Cloudy and rainy all day.' 

January 29. — Leaving our miserable camp of last night early this 
morning, we struck a northerly course, passing a large dry creek 
timbered with cottonwood, over a plain destitute of vegetation (the 
grass and shrubbery having been destroyed by the wild horses), we 
made camp on a large slough.^ Manuel, to-day, killed a fat wild 

* The Rio Reyes, or Lake Fork. 

t Walker mistook this river for the South Fork of the San Joaquin. 
+ This slough, at high water, connects the waters of the San Joaquin with 
the great Tulare Lake. 


horse — as acceptable a thing as could have happened, as we were 
out of meat, and had been so for two days. 

January 30. — Continuing down the slough for four or five miles, 
we struck a bold stream — the San Joaquin. It is heavily timbered 
with oak and willow. Wild horses and elk begin to show themselves. 

February 1. — Jim Connor and Wetowa (two Delawares) tracked 
a large grizzly bear to his thicket. The whole camp prepared them- 
selves for the attack: after much difficulty, he was killed. This ani- 
mal was one of the largest size; he must have weighted at least 900 
pounds. This acquisition to our larder enlivened the spirits of the 
men, and mirth abounded at the various camp-fires that night; the 
song and joke, the accompaniments of plenty in the wilderness, 
could be heard everywhere. 

Continuing up the valley toward Suter's fort, on the 6th we ar- 
rived and made camp on the Calaveras, a tributary of the San 
Joaquin. Messrs. Fabbol and Walker started on ahead to hear if 
they could obtain any tidings of Captain Fremont. They returned 
again in the evening in company with Big Fallen [Fallon], an old 
mountaineer, known more commonly by the sobriquet of "Le 
Gros."^ From him we learned that the captain was at the pueblo of 
San Jose with the rest of his camp. The next morning Fallen and 
Walker started for the pueblo to give him intelligence of our where- 
abouts, while we would return to the crossing of the San Joaquin to 
await further orders. Yesterday Jim Secondi [Sagundai] (a Dela- 
ware) killed another bear, the counterpart of the one killed on the 
1st instant. 

February 11. — To-day we were joined by Carson and Owens, at 
the crossing. Crossing the river in boats or rafts, made of tule. 

February 15. — To-day we met a party of the boys with fresh horses, 
sent out to meet us. We passed through the pueblo of San Jose. The 
country between the pueblo and the Calaveras is beautiful, and well 
suited for cultivation; the streams are well timbered with different 
species of oaks. The flowering season is commencing, adding great 
beauty to the plains, by their variegated colors. The mission of San 
Jose is about twelve miles from the town, situated at the foot of a 
mountain, on the road from the crossing of the San Joaquin. It 
was formerly one of the richest missions in the upper country; it 
presents now but a poor appearance, and shows the evil resulting 
from the removal of the padres, whose posts were replaced by rapac- 
ious "administradors" of government. The building is very large and 


built of adobes; the roof is of tiles. Long rows of adobe buildings, 
one story high, used as the dwellings of the native converts, are now 
in a most dilapidated condition, scarcely affording shelter for the 
few miserable Indians who still cling to those hearths, where they 
had been raised, by the kindness of the founders, to something like 
civilization. The remains of the gardens and vineyards show the 
care and labor bestowed on the grounds by the fathers. Opposite 
to the mission, on an eminence, is the Campo Santro; the entrance 
to it is surmounted bv a large cross. From here we can see an arm 
of the bay of San Francisco. The pueblo of San Jose is a small town 
of some 50 or 60 houses, most of them in a very crumbling condi- 
tion, showing the slothful habits of the people. We arrived about 
noon at the "Laguna farm," where we rejoined Captain Fremont, 
who was anxiouslv awaiting our arrival." Both parties were again 
united, without any serious accident having happened to either, and 
both had had their share of hard times. 

Note. — When separating from Captain F. on Walker's Lake, Walker had 
given a description of the valley of California, where a river which he 
supposed to be the Rio Reyes (and on which we encamped from the 27th of 
December till the 18th of January, 1846, the same which is now called Kern's 
River), enters the valley, the description and the rude map which I made 
from it, answered to the markings of the country very well. Supposing we 
had entered the valley at the river Reyes, we crossed the several small streams 
that find their way into the Tulare Lake, and when reaching the Lake Fork 
or Rio Reyes, he (Walker) fancied himself on the South Fork of San 
Joaquin. I remember Walker's telling me that the river made a great bend 
to the southward, and to make a cut-off, we left its banks, and in expectation 
of again meeting it, traveled till we found ourselves climbing the Coast 
range. Walker had fallen into the error on a previous trip years ago, and had, 
in search of the river, crossed the Coast range toward Monterey. On his re- 
turn trip he left the country by a more southern pass in the Sierra, which 
Captain Fremont calls Walker's pass. Walker's old pass was to the north- 
ward of this by what is now called Kern River. The mistake Walker made in 
the name of the river on which we had camped to wait for Captain Fremont 
was the cause of his failure to make a junction with us, as had been pre- 
arranged, at Walker's Lake; Captain Fremont, as will be found by his 
memoir of 1848, having ascended the Rio Reyes (proper) in search of our 

E. M. K. 

Printed as Appendix Q in simpson, 477-86. This is apparently an abridg- 
ment of Kern's full journal of the trip to California, covering the period from 
17 .\ug. 1845 to 15 Feb. 1846, which in 1959 was in possession of Mr. and 
Mrs. Fred Cron of Dingman's Ferry, Pa. Some extracts of the original were 
published in Lije, 6 April 1959. Capt. James Hervey Simpson was an old em- 


ployer of Edward M. Kern and his brother, Richard H. After JCF's fourth 
expedition broke up in 1849, the Kern brothers had been left stranded in 
New Mexico, but they soon found employment with Simpson in drafting a 
report of his route from Fort Smith to Santa Fe. A few weeks later they 
accompanied him as artist-scientists on a military reconnaissance of the 
Navajo country. In 1860 Simpson was writing a report of his 1859 survey 
of a wagon route across part of the Great Basin and wished to have the 
benefit of Kern's knowledge gained from his travels with JCF. 

1. The party crossed the Ruby Mountains by way of Secret Pass. 

2. The emigrant wagon road to California came from Fort Hall to the 
Truckee River by way of the Humboldt. 

3. Walker's battles with the Indians seem to have occurred in 1833 and 
1834. WATSON, 53, 70, records that Walker's party killed some thirty-nine 
Paiutes in the Humboldt Sink country in Sept. 1833 on their route into 
California and some fourteen the next spring on their way out. 

4. Kern has confused his facts and dates. The man shot was Milton Little, 
who received an arrow wound in the breast while on guard duty one night 
(WilHam Baldridge narrative, pp. 3-4, CU-B). He was with the Walker 
detachment of the 1843 Chiles-Walker expedition to California. Walker 
used the pass which bears his name, but Chiles and his group kept to the 
Oregon Trail as far as Fort Boise, then struck off to the west, up the 
Malheur River, and on to the waters of the Sacramento (giffen [2], 39-43). 
As noted above, the bloody battles with the Indians occurred in 1833 and 

5. Kern was looking across the Mojave Desert. 

6. They probably reached the valley of California in the vicinity of White 
River (farquhar, 93). 

7. On this day and perhaps again on 30 Jan., Kern — who was collecting 
western birds — obtained specimens of Buteo regalis (Gray), the ferruginous 
hawk (A.O.U. 348). In notes he made later for ornithologist John Cassin, he 
wrote that some of his party shot it for the mess kettle whenever op- 
portunity offered, finding it "very good eating." Cassin already knew the 
bird as Falco jerrugineus Licht., Abh. K. Acad. Berlin (1838) and as Archi- 
buteo regalis Gray, Genera of Birds, vol. 1, pt. 1 (May 1844). He gave Kern 
credit, however, for first bringing it to the attention of American naturalists — 
perhaps an inadvertence — and indicated that its range was rather restricted. 
Actually the bird ranged as far east as Minnesota, but too little collecting had 
been done by 1846 to establish the full range. See Kern to Cassin, 11 May 
1852 (PPAN), and cassin, 159-62 and plate 26. Biologist and author Paul R. 
Outright has kindly contributed his own knowledge to this note and has 
done some further checking at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Phila- 
delphia. A few additional bird specimens collected by Kern are on deposit 
at the academy. 

8. We have no information on Fabbol beyond the fact that he was a mem- 
ber of JCF's 1845 expedition. He seems not to have been a member of the 
California Battalion. A native of St. Louis, William O. Fallon had spent 
many years in the Rocky Mountain fur trade, would participate in the 
Bear Flag Revolt, and would recruit for JCF's California Battalion, in 
which he himself served. He would also head the Donner Fourth Relief and 
serve as guide for General Kearny when he went east in 1847 (anderson, 
296-300; bryant, 261-65). 

9. "Laguna farm" was Rancho la Laguna Seca, which belonged to William 


Fisher (d. 1850), a sea captain from Boston who had been Uving in Cali- 
fornia for a number of years and who had purchased the rancho of four 
square miles in 1845. Fisher settled his family there after JCF's February visit. 

6. Excerpt from the Memoirs 

[24 Jan.-20 Feb. 1846] 

After finishing my letter^ I set out towards evening for Monterey 
with Mr. Leidesdorfif, who was kind enough to give me the advan- 
tage of his company. His house was one of the best among the few 
in Yerba Buena — a low bungalow sort of adobe house with a long 
piazza facing the bay for the sunny mornings, and a cheerful fire 
within against the fog and chill of the afternoons. His wife, a hand- 
some, girl-like woman, Russian from Sitka, gave the element of 
home which had been long missing to my experience.^ He was a 
cheerful-natured man, and his garden and his wife spoke pleasantly 
for him. 

We had started rather late and on the plain beyond the Mission 
Dolores in the darkness and the fog we lost our way, but wandering 
around we were at last rejoiced by hearing the barking of dogs. 
This soon brought us to the rancho of Don Francisco Sanchez,^ for 
which we were looking, and where we were received with the cor- 
dial hospitality which in those days assured a good bed and a savory 
supper to every traveller, and if his horse happened to be tired or 
hurt by any accident a good one to replace it for the journey. 

The next day we rode along the bay shore, the wooded and fertile 
character of which needs no describing, and stopped for the night 
with Don Antonio Sunol.^ This was my first ride down the valley 
of San Jose, and I enjoyed even the passing under the oak groves 
with the branches cut off to a uniform height by the browsing herds 
of catde, listening the while to Leidesdorff's account of the fertility 
of the country's vegetation. His descriptions of this part of the 
country were especially interesting to me. He was a lover of nature 
and his garden at San Francisco was, at that time, considered a 

After a half day's riding from the Gomez rancho,^ across the 
Salinas plains, we reached Monterey and went directly to the house 
of our consul, Mr. Larkin.*' I had come to Monterey with the object 


of obtaining leave to bring my party into the settlements in order to 
refit and obtain the supplies that had now become necessary. All the 
camp equipment, the clothes of the men and their saddles and horse 
gear, were either used up or badly in want of repair. 

The next morning I made my official visits. I found the governor, 
Don Pio Pico,' absent at Los Angeles. With Mr. Larkin I called 
upon the commanding general, Don Jose Castro,^ the prefect,^ al- 
calde,^" and ex-Governor Alvarado.^^ I informed the general and 
the other officers that I was engaged in surveying the nearest route 
from the United States to the Pacific Ocean. I informed them farther 
that the object of the survey was geographical, being under the 
direction of the Bureau of Topographical Engineers, to which corps 
I belonged ; and that it was made in the interests of science and of 
commerce, and that the men composing the party were citizens and 
not soldiers. 

The permission asked for was readily granted, and during the two 
days I stayed I was treated with every courtesy by the general and 
other officers.^" 

This permission obtained I immediately set about arranging for 
supplies of various kinds" and for sending fresh horses to meet our 
people; with such supplies of lesser luxuries as I knew would be 
grateful to them; and by the middle of February we were all re- 
united in the valley of San Jose, about thirteen miles south of the 
village of that name on the main road leading to Monterey, which 
was about sixty miles distant. ^^ 

The place which I had selected for rest and refitting was a vacant 
rancho called the Laguna, belonging to Mr. Fisher. I remained here 
until February, in the delightful spring season of a most delightful 
climate. The time was occupied in purchasing horses, obtaining sup- 
plies, and thoroughly refitting the party. 

I established the rate of the chronometer and made this encamp- 
ment a new point of departure. Observations put it in longitude 121° 
39' 08", latitude 37^ 13' 32". This point is but a few miles distant 
from what is now the Lick Observatory. 

Many Californians visited the camp, and very friendly relations 
grew up with us.'"' One day amusements were going on as usual, 
the Californians showing our men their admirable horsemanship. 
One of the largest vultures which are often seen floating about over- 


head had been brought down with a broken wing by one of our 
rifles. This was the point on which we excelled, as the others in 
perfect horsemanship. The vulture was sitting on the frame of a 
cart to which he had been tied; he had gotten over his hurt and 
would have been treated as a pet, but his savage nature would not 
permit of any approach. By accident a Californian had gotten a fall 
and the whole camp was shouting and laughing, and Owens, his 
mouth wide open, was backing towards the cart to rest his arm on 
the wheel, forgetful of the vulture. The vulture with his long, red 
neck stretched out was seizing the opportunity — we all saw it and 
Owens saw our amusement, but not quite in time to escape the grip 
of the vulture. 

It was quite a picture. The vulture lying in wait, and Owens' 
unconsciousness, and the hearty laugh which cheered the bird's 
exploit. Owens got ofT with a sharp pinch and a torn sleeve. 

MEMOIRS, 453-56. 

1. To Jessie B. Fremont, 24 Jan. 1846, Doc. No. 4. 

2. Leidesdorfif was unmarried. After his premature death Army officer 
Joseph Libbey Folsom purchased all right and title to his estate from 
Leidesdorff's mother and surviving brothers and sisters, who were living on 
the island of St. Croix (r. e. cowan). The steamer which the vice-consul 
purchased from the Russian American Company in the fall of 1847 for use 
in his hide and tallow trade became known as the Sit1{a — at least after she 
sank — having been constructed in the Russian port of that name (j. h. 

3. Owner of Rancho San Pedro in San Mateo County, Francisco Sanchez 
later organized a Californian force which captured Lieut. Washington Allon 
Bartlett and five men on 8 Dec. 1846. The Americans were engaged in a 
foray to carry off cattle. It is Wiltsee's opinion that Sanchez hoped to 
organize a revolt of all Upper Californians to cooperate with Jose Maria 
Flores's revolt south of the Tehachapi (see wiltsee fl], 123-28). 

4. Antonio Maria Sunol (ca. 1800-1865), a native of Spain, had deserted 
from the French naval service and settled in San Jose, where he became 
subprefect in 1841. By that time, too, he had acquired the Rancho San Jose 
del Valle. 

5. Rancho Verjeles, owned by Jose Joaquin Gomez, who had the reputation 
of being friendly to the United States. Thomas Oliver Larkin was captured 
by the Californians at the Ciomez rancho in Nov. 1846. 

6. Born in Massachusetts, Thomas Oliver Larkin (1802-58) had come to 
California in 1832 and gradually built up a prosperous trade. He served as 
U.S. consul at Monterey, and in 1846 Archibald Gillespie brought a secret 
dispatch appointing him "Confidential Agent in California," under the 
authority of which he launched a propaganda campaign to separate California 
from Mexico peacefully, in furtherance of President Polk's expansionist 
policy. He was actually not very sympathetic to the Bears, as will become 


Jose Castro. From a portrait in the Bancroft Library. 


evident later. Larkin was appointed U.S. naval agent by Commodore 
Stockton in Aug. 1846 — an appointment confirmed by President Polk in 
March 1847, and one which JCF tried unsuccessfully to obtain in 1848. 

7. Pio Pico (1801-94), sympathetic to English rather than American inter- 
ests in California, was actually the provisional governor, though his claim to 
the office was confirmed in Mexico, and on 18 April 1846 he took the oath as 
constitutional governor. 

8. Gen. Jose Castro (ca. 1810-60) had a long career of public service. Al- 
though he often switched sides in California politics and conflicts, he was 
consistent in his patriotism and genuinely concerned about the American 
threat in California. 

9. Manuel de Jesus Castro (b. 1821), a cousin but not a supporter of Gen. 
Jose Castro in his political rivalry with Pio Pico. After the Angelenos revolted 
against Gillespie, Manuel de Jesus Castro was put in command of the 
northern division. When Flores was defeated, Castro fled to Mexico with him 
but later returned to San Francisco, although he never became a U.S. citizen 
(pioneer register). 

10. The alcalde of Monterey in Jan. 1846 was Manuel Diaz, owner of a 
Sacramento rancho and somewhat friendly to the United States (pioneer 

11. Juan Bautista Alvarado (1809-82) had been governor, first revolutionary 
and then constitutional, of California from 1836 to 1842. He was the grantee 
of several ranchos, including the famous Las Mariposas, which Larkin was to 
purchase for JCF on 10 Feb. 1847. 

12. Historians have usually considered JCF's request to winter and pro- 
vision his men in California a verbal one, and JCF himself in an interview 
in Dec. 1884 with the historian Josiah Royce remembered the request as 
being verbal (Royce's memorandum of an interview with JCF and JBF, 
CU-B). Certainly no letter of JCF to Castro has been found. However, to a 
copy of his own letter to the prefect of the Second District, Larkin has added 
this interesting note, implying that the request had been a written one: "The 
General was at his own request officially informed by Captain Fremont of 
his motives in coming here, which motives were accepted by Gen. Castro in 
not answering the letter" (larkin, 4:186-87). In the same 1884 interview with 
Royce, JCF recalled obtaining permission not only to rest and resupply the 
party on the frontiers — i.e., in the San Joaquin Valley — but to travel through 
the country and examine the passes to the coast. Talbot wrote his mother that 
the captain had permission "to pass through the country & buy stores and 
recruit generally" (letter of 24 July 1846, DLC— Talbot Papers), but it must 
be remembered that Talbot had been in the San Joaquin Valley at the time 
of JCF's visit to Monterey and could know only what the explorer might 
have told him. In his court-martial defense, probably written by Benton, the 
implication is that JCF had permission to winter in the valley of the San 
Joaquin. Certainly Larkin gave the impression that JCF's men were to be 
left on the frontiers of the Second Department and that as soon as JCF 
obtained the necessary supplies in Monterey, he would continue on to 
Oregon (Larkin to Manuel de Jesus Castro, 29 Jan. 1846, larkin, 4:186-87). 
In Doc. No. 15 Larkin implies that JCF's later difficulty with the Mexican 
authorities arose from his camping too near towns, but another document, 
later by one day, indicates that General Castro may have changed his policy 
after granting permission. "Since then the General states, that he has re- 
ceived by the Hannah, positive orders from Mexico, to drive Captain Fremont 


from the Country" (Larkin to "The Commander of any American Ship of 
War, in San Bias, or Mazatlan," 9 March 1846, larkin, 4:243-44). General 
Castro wrote to the Minister of War from Monterey on 6 March, "But two 
days ago I was much surprised at being informed that this person [JCF] was 
only two days' journey from this place" (cal. his. soc. docs., 4:375). 

13. On 1 March 1846 Larkin wrote the U.S. consul at Vera Cruz that he 
had purchased for JCF's party "common shirts at over three dollars each, 
common heavy jackets twelve to fourteen dollars." On 6 March he for- 
warded to Joel Giles two drafts, one for $1,000 and one for $800, both drawn 
by JCF on the chief of the Topographical Bureau. JCF received cash for his 
drafts. Both letters are in larkin, 4:215-17, 235-36. 

14. The brief account which JCF gives of the activities of the Talbot- 
Walker-Kern detachment is omitted here, as Kern's journal (Doc. No. 5) 
gives a fuller account. 

15. But apparently there were also some irritations, as the next document 
will indicate. 

7. Fremont to Jose Dolores Pacheco 

Camp Near Road to Santa Cruz 
February 21, 1846 


I received your communication of the 20th/ informing me that a 
complaint had been lodged against me in your office for refusing to 
deliver up certain animals of my band, which are claimed as havmg 
been stolen from this vicinity about two mo7iths since; and that the 
plaintiff further complains of having been insulted in my camp. 

It can be proven on oath by thirty men here present, that the 
animal pointed out by the plaintiff has been brought in my band 
from the United States of North America. The insult of which he 
complains, and which was authorized by myself, consisted in his 
being ordered immediately to leave the camp. After having been 
detected in endeavoring to obtain animals under false pretences, 
he should have been well satisfied to escape without a severe horse- 

There are four animals in my band which were bartered from 
the Tulare Indians by a division of my party which descended the 
San Joaquin Valley. I was not there present, and if any more legal 
owners present themselves, these shall be immediately delivered 
upon proving property. It may save some trouble to inform you 
that, with this exception, all the animals in my band have been 


Thomas Oliver Larkin. From a print in Walter Colton, Three Years in 
California (New York, 1850). Courtesy of the University of 

Illinois Library. 


purchased and paid for. Any further communications on this subject 
will not, therefore, receive attention. You will readily understand 
that my duties will not permit me to appear before the magistrates 
of your towns on the complaint of every straggling vagabond who 
may chance to visit my camp. You inform me that unless satisfaction 
be immediately made by the delivery of the animals in question, the 
complaint will be forwarded to the Governor. I would beg you at 
the same time to give to his Excellency a copy of this note. I am, 
very respectfully, Your obedient servant,^ 

J, C. Fremont 
U.S. Army 

Printed in cal. his. soc. docs., 4:374. Jose Dolores Pacheco (d. 1852) was 
alcalde and justice of the peace at San Jose in 1846. 

1. Not found. 

2. Besides the theft of a mule or a horse, three of JCF's men were accused 
of, when under the influence of liquor, offering insults to the family of Angel 
Castro, uncle of Gen. Jose Castro (Larkin to Secretary of State, duplicate 
copy, 27 March 1846, DNA-59, Consular Despatches, Monterey, Calif.). 
While JCF made amends immediately, the event undoubtedly focused atten- 
tion on him and his men. Patriotic Californians, who had heard rumors that 
1846 was to bring "great changes over the face of California" and who saw 
John Marsh and other native-born Americans visiting the camp of the ex- 
plorer, became suspicious of JCF's real motives in traveling and camping 
within the vicinity of Monterey, sometimes within eight miles of the town. 

8. Excerpt from the Memoirs 

[22 Feb.-3 March 18461 

Resuming the work of the expedition, on the 22d March [Feb.] 
we encamped on the Wild-Cat Ridge on the road to Santa Cruz, 
and again on the 23d near the summit. The varied character of the 
woods and shrubbery on this mountain, which lay between my 
camp and the Santa Cruz shore, was very interesting to me, and I 
wished to spend some days there, as now the spring season was re- 
newing vegetation, and the accounts of the great trees in the forest 
on the west slope of the mountains had roused my curiosity. Always, 
too, I had before my mind the home I wished to make in the coun- 
try, and first one place and then another charmed me. But none 
seemed perfect where the sea was wanting, and so far I had not 


stood by the open waves of the Pacific. The soft climate of the San 
Jose valley was very enticing, and in the interior I had seen lovely 
spots in the midst of the great pines where the mountains looked 
down, but the sea was lacking. The piny fragrance was grateful, 
but it was not the invigorating salt breeze which brings with it 
renewed strength. This I wanted for my mother. For me, the shore 
of "the sounding sea" was a pleasure of which I never wearied, and 
I knew that along this coast the sea broke deep against bold rocks 
or shining sands. All this I had reason to believe I would find some- 
where on the Santa Cruz shore. We remained on the upper portion 
of the mountain several days. The place of our encampment was 
two thousand feet above the sea, and was covered with a luxuriant 
growth of grass a foot high in many places. 

At sunrise the temperature was 40°; at noon, 60°; at four in 
the afternoon, 65°, and 63° at sunset, with very pleasant weather. 
The mountains were wooded with many varieties of trees, and in 
some parts with heavy forests. These forests are characterized by a 
cypress {taxodium) of extraordinary dimensions, which I have al- 
ready mentioned among the trees in the Sierra Nevada as distin- 
guished among the forest trees of America by its superior size and 
height. Among many we measured in this part of the mountain a 
diameter of nine or ten feet was frequent, sometimes eleven; but 
going beyond eleven onlv in a single tree, which reached fourteen 
feet in diameter. Above two hundred feet was a frequent height. 
In this locality the bark was verv deeply furrowed and unusually 
thick, being fully sixteen inches on some of the trees. It was now in 
bloom, flowering near the summit, and the flowers consequently 
difficult to procure. 

This is the staple timber-tree of the country, being cut into both 
boards and shingles, and is the principal timber sawed at the mills. 
It is soft and easily worked, wearing away too quickly to be used 
for floor; but it seems to have all the durability which anciently 
gave the cypress so much celebrity. Posts which had been exposed 
to the weather three-quarters of a century, since the foundation of 
the Missions, showed no marks of decay in the wood and are now 
converted into beams and posts for private dwellings. In California 
this tree is called the Palo Colorado, Redwood. 

Among the oaks in this mountain is a handsome, lofty evergreen 
tree, specifically different from those of the lower grounds, and 
in its general appearance much resembling hickory. The bark is 


smooth, of a white color, and the wood hard and close-grained. It 
seems to prefer the north hillsides, where some were nearly four 
feet in diameter and a hundred feet high. 

Another remarkable tree of these woods is called in the language 
of the country Madrona. It is a beautiful evergreen with large, thick, 
and glossy digitated leaves; the trunk and branches reddish colored 
and having a smooth and singularly naked appearance, as if the 
bark had been stripped off. In its green state the wood is brittle, 
very heavy, hard, and close grained; it is said to assume a red color 
when dry, sometimes variegated, and susceptible of a high polish. 
This tree was found by us only in the mountains. Some measured 
nearly four feet in diameter and were about sixty feet high. 

A few scattered flowers were now showing throughout the forests, 
and on the open ridges shrubs were flowering; but the bloom was 
not yet general. On the 25th of February we descended to the coast 
near the northwestern point of Monterey Bay, losing our fine weather, 
which in the evening changed to a cold southeasterly storm that 
continued with heavy and constant rains for several days. 

The rain-storms closed with February, and the weather becoming 
fine, on the 1st of March we resumed our progress along the coast. 
Over the face of the country between Santa Cruz and Monterey, and 
around the plains of San Juan, the grass, which had been eaten 
down by the large herds of cattle, was now everywhere springing 
up and flowers began to show their bloom. In the valleys of the 
mountains bordering the Salinas plains wild oats were three feet 
high and well headed. The Salinas River runs through these plains, 
which are some fifty miles in length. 

Pursuing our course to the southward I encamped on the after- 
noon of March 3d at the Hartnell rancho,^ which is on a small 
creek-bed well out on the plain. We were now passing Monterey, 
which was about twenty-five miles distant. 

The Salinas valley lay outside of the more occupied parts of the 
country; and I was on my way to a pass, opening into the San 
Joaquin valley, at the head of a western branch of the Salinas River. 

MEMOIRS, 456-58. 

1. William E. P. Hartnell (1798-1854), an Englishman who had been en- 
gaged in trade in California as early as 1822, was the owner of the Rancho 
Alisal or Patrocinio. He was administrator of the Mexican customs house at 
Monterey, and he was to render valuable service to both Mexicans and 
Americans as an interpreter and translator. For an appreciation of Hartnell's 
varied career, see dakin. 


9. Fremont to Thomas Oliver Larkin 

In Camp, March 5th 1846 
My dear Sir 

It would have afforded me pleasure to thank you personally for 
the kindness of your late letters/ but I am unwilling to leave my 
party and the presence of my little force might be disagreeable to 
the authorities in Monterey. 

I therefore practise the self denial which is a constant virtue here 
and forego the pleasure I should have found in seeing some little of 
society in your capital. Having seen nothing, what shall I say now to 
those who ask me of Hastings' accounts ?' 

The bearer is one of my trustworthy men'"* and I send him to you 
for any intelligence you may have received from the States, and beg 
you to give him the newspapers you spoke of in your last. As you 
may judge, your letter woke up some strong memories and since 
then my occupations here have lost something of their usual inter- 
est. But I shall soon be laboriously employed; the spring promises 
to be a glorious one, and a month or two will pass quickly and use- 
fully among the flowers while we are waiting on the season for our 
operations in the north. 

This evening I encamp on the Monterey river, where I will ex- 
pect the return of my messenger tomorrow afternoon. If Mr. Hart- 
nail [Hartnell] could conveniendy find the astronomical positions 
of Mr. Douglas^ which he mentioned, they would be of use to me 
now in my journey southward. 

I need hardly say that it will afford me pleasure to be of any 
service to you at home and I shall always be glad to hear from you. 
Can you tell me at about what time the letters I left with you will 
reach Washington? In May perhaps? Please offer my regards to 
Mrs. Larkin; I must certainly endeavor to see you again before 
leaving the country, and in the mean time am, Yours truly, 

J. C. Fremont 
Thomas O. Larkin Esqre 
Consul for the United States at Monterey 

Printed in larkin, 4:227-28. 

1. Larkin's letters have not been found. 

2. A reference to Lansford W. Hastings's promotional lectures and literature 


on California, particularly to The Emigrarits' Guide to Oregon and Cali- 
fornia (Cincinnati, 1845). See Doc. No. 3, n. 11. 

3. Alexander Godey, according to William D. Phelps, master of the bark 
Moscow, who claimed to be present when the messenger arrived at the con- 
sulate (PHELPS, 279). 

4. David Douglas (1799-1834), Scottish botanical explorer, had collected in 
the Pacific Northwest and California before he met a tragic death in the 
Hawaiian Islands. 

10. Thomas Oliver Larkin to Fremont 

Monterey, March 5th, 1846 


I have just received two letters from the Commandant General of 
California, and the Prefecto of this District, who inform me they 
have sent you official letters,^ enclosing me the copies. The following 
is a translation, which with my answer I will send to you in En- 
glish." I remain, Dear Sir, Yours sincerely, 

(Signed) Thomas O. Larkin 

To Captain J. C. Fremont, U.S. Army 

Printed in larkin, 4:228. 

1. The original letters of Gen. Jose Castro and prefect Manuel de Jesus 
Castro have not been found, but Larkin sent translations of his copies to the 
Secretary of State, James Buchanan (see our Doc. Nos. 11 and 12). 

2. See Larkin to Jose Castro and Manuel de Jesus Castro, 6 March 1846, 
Doc. No. 13. 

11. Jose Castro to Fremont 

Commandant General of Upper California 

[5 March 1846] 

With this date I say to Captain J. C. Fremont the following: 
At seven o'clock this morning the Commandant General was 
given to understand that you and the party under your command 
have entered the towns of this Department, and such being pro- 
hibited by our laws I find myself obligated to advertise you that on 


the receipt of this you will immediately retire beyond the limits of 
this same Department such being the orders of the supreme Govern- 
ment and the subscriber is obligated to see them complied with. 

And the undersigned has the honor of transcribing the same to 
the Consul of the United States of America for its knowledge of 
the same. God & Liberty. Monterey March 5th 1846. 

(Signed) Jose Castro 
Mr. Thomas Larkin 
Consul of the U.S. America In this Port 

Translated copy enclosed in Larkin to Secretary of State, 5 March 1846, 
no. 36 (DNA-59, Consular Despatches, Monterey, Calif.). 

12. Manuel de Jesus Castro to Fremont 

Prefect of the Second District 
Monterey March 6th [5th] 1846 
Captain J C Fremont 

"I have learnt with surprise that you against the laws of the au- 
thorities of Mexico have introduced yourself into the towns of this 
Departmental district under my charge with an armed force under 
a commission which must have been given you by your government 
only to survey its own proper lands. 

In consequence this Prefectura now orders that you will imme- 
diately on receipt of this without any pretext return with your people 
out of the limits of this territory. If not this office will take the 
necessary measures to cause respect to this determination." 

I have the honor to transcribe this to you for your intelligence 
that you may act in the case as belongs to your office and that he 
mav comply with the expressed order. God & Liberty. Monterey 
March 5th 1846. 

(Signed) Manuel Castro 

Mr. Thomas O Larkin 
Consul of the U.S. of America 

Translated copy enclosed in Larkin to Secretary of State, 5 March 1846, no. 
36 (DNA-59, Consular Despatches, Monterey, Calif.). 


13. Thomas Oliver Larkin to Jose Castro 
and Manuel de Jesus Castro 

Consulate of the United States 
Monterey March 6th 1846 

The undersigned Consul of the United States has the honour to 
acknowledge the receipt of your official note of yesterday containing 
a copy of your letter and orders to Capt J C Fremont, U. S. Army 
(now encamped near the Salinas River) with his men, to leave this 
country immediately. 

The undersigned understood that your letter was yesterday carried 
to Captain Fremont, by an officer having some eight or ten men 
under his charge and that at this moment there is a large number 
of armed men collecting in this town for the purpose of going to 
the camp of that American officer. He would therefore take the 
Liberty of saying that although he is well aware that you, as a Mexi- 
can officer and a patriot, are bound to take every step that may re- 
dound to the integrity and interest of your country, he would 
further observe that his countrymen must not be unjustly or unne- 
sesarily harrased from causes that may arise from false reports, or 
false appearances, and would recommend, that if any party are 
going to the Camp of Captain Fremont that it may be commanded 
by a trustworthy & experienced officer, which may prevent affairs 
on the meeting of the two parties from being brought to some un- 
happy conclusion. The undersigned has the honor to subscribe him- 
self as your most obedt. [servant], 

(Signed) Thomas O. Larkin 

To Don Jose Castro, Commandant General of Upper California 
& Sr. Don Manuel Castro, Prefecto of the 2d District 

Copy enclosed In Larkin to Secretary of State, 9 March 1846, no. 37 
(DNA-59, Consular Despatches, Monterey, Calif.). 


14. Manuel de Jesus Castro to 
Thomas Oliver Larkin 

Prefecture of the Second District 
[8 March 1846] 

The undersigned Prefect of this District has received the note of 
the consul of the U.S. Mr. Thomas O Larkin dated 6 Inst, and in 
answer thereto has the honour to say that far from replying in it 
that he will order the captain of the U.S. army Mr J C Fremont to 
leave immediately with his force of Armed Troops (according to 
the acceptation of the word camp which he uses in his communica- 
tion) the limits of this Department transgressing the principles 
established amongst civilized nations he defends his unjust intro- 
duction. The undersigned when he ordered Capt Fremont to march 
back founded himself on repeted orders & decrees from the Supreme 
Government of the Mexican Republic which prohibits the intro- 
duction not only of troops belonging to any power but even that of 
Foreigners who do not come provided with legal Passports and not 
on False Reports and False appearances as the Consul of the U.S. 
says in his said note. The undersigned promises the Consul of the 
United States that as far as lays in his power Those persons who are 
subject to the laws of the country and may harrass the subjects of 
his nation who are under the protection of said laws shall be pun- 
ished according to the same, after the necessary proofiFs shall be given, 
and the customary formalities gone through. The undersigned 
makes known to the Consul of the U.S. that if he desires to avoid 
that the force of Capt. Fremont may come to an unfortunate end 
meeting with the force of the Department, he ought to inform said 
Captain Fremont that since he entred this Department with an 
armed force wether through malice [or] error, he must now either 
blindly obey the authorities or on the contrary experience the mis- 
fortunes which he has sought by his crime. The Undersigned sub- 
scribes &c &c God & Liberty, Monterey March 8th 1846. 

(Signed) Manuel Castro 
Consul of the U. S. of North America Mr. Thomas O Larkin 

Translated copy enclosed in Larkin to Secretary of State, 9 March 1846, no. 
37 (DNA-59, Consular Despatches, Monterey, Calif.). 


15. Thomas Oliver Larkin to Fremont 

Consulate of the United States 
Monterey, California, March 8th, 1846 

With this you have my Consular answer^ to the General & Pre- 
fecto's letter to you of last week, of which I had the honour to re- 
ceive copies from them. I also add the Senor Prefecto's second letter" 
to me of this day. By your Messenger of last week, I forwarded 
some U. S. Newspapers, a Spanish Grammar, some Magazines, and 
English copies of the General and Prefecto's letters to you on the 
5th Inst. I then informed you that there was an American Brig 
(Brig Hannah, of Salem) at anchor in this port, bound to Mazatlan, 
whose Supercargo^ I had requested to remain here untill the third 
day to enable you to send letters to the United States if you were so 
inclined. I cannot tell whether my letter^ reached you, but heard 
of your man being almost at your Camp day before yesterday. I have 
now to inform you (and my information is derived from the cur- 
rent reports of the day) that General Castro was on the plain last 
night with about sixty people. Many more from the Ranchos joined 
him today. At this moment some forty men are preparing to leave 
Monterey to join the party. I should think tomorrow he might have 
two hundred men or perhaps more. Many of the common people 
will join through choice, others by being so ordered by the General. 
Among the other class, there are some looking on the afifair with 
indifference, some perhaps with favor to either side as their friend- 
ship to the present authorities or their own interest may govern 
them. Respecting the result there are various opinions. 

It is not for me to point out to you your line of conduct. You have 
your Government Instructions. My knowledge of your character 
obliges me to believe you will follow them. Nor can I offer any 
advice not knowing those instructions. Should you have no orders 
to enter this country the authorities are by their own laws correct 
in saying you can not remain with a company of armed men. You 
of course are taking every care and safe guard to protect your men, 
but not knowing your situation, and the people who surround you, 
your care may prove insufficient. You are officially ordered to leave 
the Country; I am shure you will use your own discretion on the 
subject. Your danger may remain in supposing that no uncommon 


means will be taken for your expulsion. Although the expressions 
of the common people under the passions of the moment, breathe 
vengeance in every form against you, I cannot conclude that so 
much w^ill be put in force, should they succeed in overpowering you. 
I therefore only wish you to suppose yourself in a situation where 
you must take every measure to prevent a supprise, from those you 
may consider partially friends. Should my ideas be correct, the act 
perhaps will originate, not from the heads, or the respectability of 
the Country, but from those of a more head-strong class, who having 
fought so many (called) battles, may considered themselves invenci- 

Your encamping so near Town has caused much excitement. 
The Natives are firm in the belief that they will break you up, and 
that you can be entirely destroyed by their power; in all probility 
they will attack you. The result either way may cause trouble here- 
after to Resident Americans. I myself have no fear on the subject, 
yet believe the present state of affairs may cause an interruption in 
business. Should it be impossible or inconvenient for you to leave 
California at present, I think on a proper representation to the Gen- 
eral and Prefecto, an arraingment could be made for your Camp 
to be continued, but at some greater distance; which arraingment 
I would advise, if you can offer it. I never make to this Government 
an unreasonable request, therefore never expect denial, and have for 
many years found them well disposed towards me. You cannot 
well leave your people. Should you wish to see me, I will immedi- 
ately visit your Camp. Please answer directly by the Bearer. I am 
Yours Truly, in haste, 

(Signed) Thomas O. Larkin 
Captain J, C. Fremont 
U. S. Army. Alisal 
24 miles from Monterey 

Copy enclosed in Larkin to Secretary of State, 9 March 1846, no. 37 
(DNA-59, Consular Despatches, Monterey, Calif.). 

1. See Larkin to Jose Castro and Manuel de Jesus Castro, 6 March 1846, 
Doc. No. 13. 

2. See Manuel de Jesiis Castro to Larkin [8 March 1846|, Doc. No. 14. 

3. Gregorio Ajuria was supercargo of the Hannah. 

4. This letter not found. 


16. Memorandum of Directions to Courier 

Consulate of the U.S. of N. America 
Monterey 8th March [1846] 

You will proceed as quick as possible, by all means to Capt Fre- 
mont tomorrow. You will show your passport and the letter to any 
person who as an officer may demand to see them. Should you by 
force have to deliver up my letter, do so but endeavour to know 
the person who takes it. Should the letter be taken from you, en- 
deavour to see Capt. Fremont and tell him I sent you with the letter 
and who took it from you. You will tell him to guard himself against 
acts of treachery at night, and not to place any faith in having a 
regular warfare, should there be any regular fighting, and by no 
means depend on the natives. 

Note. One copy given to a native and another to a foreigner,^ the 
latter being two days on the road, fell into the hands of the General 
and gave him the letters on the latter promising to forward as 
directed. On the second day Capt. Fremont had left. General Castro, 
twenty days afterward informed me that he had forwarded the 
letters the man gave him to Capt Fremont, when he had actualy 
sent them to Mexico, where they were published. He at the same 
time informed his Government that Capt. Fremont was driven away 
and that in May all other Americans would be. 

(Signed) Thomas O. Larkin 

Copy 8 in Larkin to Secretary of State, 20 July 1846, no. 54 (DNA-59, 
Consular Despatches, Monterey, Calif.). 

1. The "foreigner" to whom Larkin entrusted a copy of the letter of 8 
March was one of JCF's own men, Joseph Stepp of Quincy, 111., who had 
been with him since the start of the expedition in May 1845 as a hunter 
and gunsmith (Larkin to Fremont, 31 May 1846, Doc. No. 30). brandon, 
79, and hafen & hafen, 24, believe Stepp's correct name to be Stepperfeldt, 
but the voucher carries the shorter version, which was at least his preference. 
The "native" returned to the American Consulate in nine or ten hours, 
bringing a letter from JCF (our Doc. No. 18). The total distance traveled was 
about sixty miles (Larkin to Secretary of State, 27 March 1846, larkin, 


17. Jose Castro's Proclamation 

[8 March 1846] 

The Citizen Jose Castro Lieut Col. of the Mexican army and com- 
mander in chief of the Department of Cal. 

Fellow citizens: A band of robbers commanded by a Capt. of the 
U.S. Army, J. C. Fremont, have, without respect to the laws & author- 
ities of the Department daringly introduced themselves into the 
country and disobeyed the orders both of your Commander in Chief 
& of the Prefect of the district, by which he was required to march, 
forthwith, out of the limits of our Territory: & without answering 
their letters he remains encamped at the farm "Natividad" from 
which he sallies forth, committing depredations, and making scan- 
dalous skirmishes. 

In the name of our native country I invite you to place yourselves 
under my immediate orders at headquarters, where we will prepare 
to lance the ulcer which (should it not be done) would destroy 
our liberties & independence for which you ought always to sacrifice 
yourselves, as will your friend & fellow citizen. 

Head quarters at "San Juan" 
(Signed) Jose Castro 
8 March 1846 

Edward M. Kern's copy (CSmH). 

18. Fremont to Thomas Oliver Larkin 

9 March 1846] 

My Dear Sir 

I this moment received your letters and without waiting to read 
them acknowledge the receipt which the Courier requires instantly. 
I am making myself as strong as possible in the intention that if 
we are unjustly attacked we will fight to extremity and refuse quar- 
ter, trusting to our country to avenge our death. No one has reached 


my camp and from the heights we are able to see troops (with the 
glass) mustering at St. Johns and preparing cannon. I thank you for 
your kindness and good wishes and would write more at length as 
to my intentions, did I not fear that my letter will be intercepted; 
we have in no wise done wrong to the people or the authorities of 
the country, and if we are hemmed in and assaulted, we will die 
every man of us, under the Flag of our country. Very truly yours, 

(Signed) J. C. Fremont 

P.S. I am encamped on the top of the Sierra at the head water of 
stream which strikes the road to Monterey, at the house of D. Joa- 
quin Gomez. 

J. C. F. 

Consulate of the United States 
Monterey, March 10, 1846 

This letter wrote in haste by Captain Fremont with his pencil, I 
received last night at 8 o'clock. I permit the translation at the re- 
quest of D. Manuel Diaz, Alcalde of Monterey (he having given 
yesterday a passport to my Courier to go to the Camp and return 
to me) with the hopes of its allaying the present sensation, bringing 
affairs to a better understanding, and that the authorities may not 
suppose I have any improper correspondence with Captain Fremont. 

(Signed) Thomas O. Larkin 

Copy (DNA-45, Area 9 File, Pacific). Also copy 10 in Larkin to Secretary 
of State, 20 July 1846 (DNA-59, Consular Despatches, Monterey, Calif.). 
Larkin's note was added to the letter when he permitted a Spanish transla- 
tion to be taken by William Hartnell for Manuel Diaz. He later became upset 
because Hartnell had translated "refuse quarter" into "I will not give 
quarter," thus making JCF's statement the very reverse of what he intended. 
So Larkin wrote Abel Stearns in Los Angeles, asking him to see if the 
governor's copy (forwarded by Diaz) was actually in Hartnell's writing and 
also to try to exchange it for the true copy. He added a curious note: "From 
Captain Fremont's visit, I am under the idea that great plans are meditated 
to be carried out by certain persons" (Larkin to Stearns, 19 March 1846, no. 
17, in Larkin to Secretary of State, 20 July 1846. no. 54, DNA-59, Consular 
Despatches, Monterey, Calif.). 


19. Thomas Oliver Larkin to Fremont 

Consulate of the United States 
Monterey, Califa., March 10th 1846 

Your letter of yesterday I received last night at eight o'clock. 
Thank you for the same. It took from me a weight of uneasiness 
respecting your situation. The Alcalde of Monterey has requested 
from me a copy in Spanish of your letter. Not knowing what you 
might approve of in the case, I had some objection. On second 
thoughts I considered that the Alcalde having given the Courier a 
passport (without which he would not go) carrying of the letters 
both ways were made public, and people might put a wrong con- 
struction on our correspondence. I gave it to him with the following 

I also considered the letter contained nothing of importance to 
keep secret, and now annex my letter of this morning to the Al- 
calde." As you may not have a copy of your letter, I send one. My 
Native Courier said he was well treated by you, that two thousand 
men could not drive you. In all cases of Couriers, order your men to 
have no hints or words with them, as it is magnified. This one said 
a man pointed to a tree, and said there's your life. He expected to 
be led to you, blindfolded, says you have sixty two men well armed, 
&c. &c. 

You will without thought of expence or trouble, call on me, or 
send to me, in every case or need, not only as your Consul, but your 
friend and Countryman. I am Yours truly, 

(Signed) Thomas O. Larkin 
To Capt. J. C. Fremont at his camp 
U.S. Army 

Copy 13 in Larkin to Secretary of State, 20 July 1846, no. 54 (DNA-59, 
Consular Despatches, Monterey, Calif.). 

1. See Fremont to Larkin, [9 March 1846 |, Doc. No. 18. 

2. See Larkin to Diaz, 10 March 1846, Doc. No. 20. 


20. Thomas Oliver Larkin to Manuel Diaz 

Consulate of the U. S. 
Monterey, March 10th, 1846 

I am not confident that Capt. Fremont may approve of my giving 
you a translation of his hasty wrote letter. As you allow the Courier 
to travel to the camp and return, and hoping this letter may on 
being known, bring affairs to some better understanding, I send 
you the translation you request.^ 

It may be that the authorities of this Department expect something 
from me as U. S. Consul under the present state of affairs; yet I know 
nothing that I can do. I have verbally offered my services whenever 
required, and now do the same in writing. Capt. Fremont has his 
own instructions, and has not to be ordered by this Consulate, yet I 
would with pleasure allay the present sensation if in my power. 

I can only add that I would respectfully advise that you would in 
your letter to the General today, say that I would take the liberty 
to propose that he should send a letter to Capt. Fremont requesting 
one hour's conversation before any extreme measures are taken, as 
I am of the firm opinion, should that officer be attacked, much blood- 
shed would ensue, that may cause not only loss of life to many of 
the present parties, but cause hereafter much expence, trouble, and 
perhaps farther loss of life to many of our respective nations, and 
I am satisfied that no present or future advantage will be obtained 
by the country from the circumstances as they now appear. I have 
reason to believe that Capt. Fremont only waits a few days to rest 
his horses (having purchased his provisions) and intends to remove 
immediately from California, yet it may be impossible for him to do 
so, while surrounded by people with hostile intentions towards him. 
Will you please send a copy of this letter to the Commandant Gen- 
eral D. Jose Castro. I have the honour to remain Yours respectfully, 

(Signed) Thomas O. Larkin 
To Don Manuel Diaz Monterey 
1st Alcalde 

Copy 15 in Larkin to Secretary of State, 20 July 1846, no. 54 (DNA-59, 
Consular Despatches, Monterey, Calif.). 

1. Larkin sent a Spanish translation of the 9 March 1846 letter of JCF, 
our Doc. No. 18. 


21. Jose Castro's Proclamation 

[13 March 1846] 

Fellow-citizens — a party of highwaymen who, without respecting 
the laws or authorities of the department, boldly entered the country 
under the leadership of Don J. C. Fremont, captain in the U.S. army, 
having disobeyed the orders of this comandancia general and of 
the prefecture of the 2d district, by which said leader was notified 
immediately to march beyond the bounds of our territory; and with- 
out replying to the said notes in writing, the said captain merely 
sent a verbal message that on the Sierra del Gavilan he was prepared 
to resist the forces which the authorities might send to attack him. 
The following measures of this command and of the prefecture, 
putting in action all possible elements, produced as a result that he 
at the sight of 200 patriots abandoned the camp which he occupied, 
leaving in it some clothing and other war material, and according 
to the scouts took the route to the Tulares. Compatriots, the act or 
unfurling the American flag on the hills, the insults and threats 
offered to the authorities, are worthy of execration and hatred from 
Mexicans; prepare, then, to defend our independence in order that 
united we may repel with a strong hand the audacity of men who, 
receiving every mark of true hospitality in our country, repay with 
such ingratitude the favors obtained from our cordiality and benevo- 

Headquarters at San Juan Bautista, March 13, 1846. 

Printed translation in Bancroft, 5:19. Castro's claim to have driven out 
JCF and the American cowards was posted in the Billiard Room in Monterey 
(Larkin to Secretary of State, 27 March 1846, no. 38, DNA-59, Consular 
Despatches, Monterey, Calif.). 

22. Excerpt from the Memoirs 

[9 March-24 May 1846] 

Descending the southeastern side of the ridge we halted for the 
night [9-10 March] on a stream about three miles from the camp of 


General Castro, a few miles from our fort/ The next day we re- 
sumed our route, and emerging into the valley of the San Joaquin 
on the 11th we found almost a summer temperature and the country 
clothed in the floral beauty of spring. Travelling by short stages we 
reached the Towalumne River on the evening of the 14th. By obser- 
vation, m latitude 37° 25' 53", and longitude 120° 35' 55''. 

On the 21st we entered the Sacramento valley, and on the 22d 
encamped at a favorite spot opposite the house of Mr. Grimes." As 
already mentioned, his house was not far from Sutter's Fort. We 
remained several days here on the American River, to recruit our 
animals on the abundant range between the Sacramento and the 

On the 24th we broke up camp with the intention of making an 
examination of the lower Sacramento valley, of which I had seen 
but little above Sutter's Fort.^ I left the American River ten miles 
above its mouth; travelling a little east of north in the direction of 
the Bear River settlements. The road led among oak timber, over 
ground slightly undulating, covered with grass intermingled with 

At sunrise on the 25th the temperature was a few degrees above 
the freezing point with an easterly wind and a clear sky. 

In about thirty miles' travel to the north, we reached the Keyser 
rancho,^ on Bear River; an affluent to Feather River, the largest 
tributary of the Sacramento. The route lay over an undulating 
country — more so as our course brought us nearer the mountains — 
wooded with oaks and shrubbery in blossom, with small prairies 
intervening. Many plants were in flower and among them the Cali- 
fornia poppy unusually magnificent. It is the characteristic bloom 
of California at this season, and the Bear River bottoms, near the 
hills, were covered with it. The blue fields of the nemophyla and 
this golden poppy represent fairly the skies and gold of California. 

I was riding quietly along with Godey through the oak groves, 
the party being several miles off nigher to the hills, when we dis- 
covered two Indian women busily occupied among the trees on the 
top of a hill, gathering plants or clover-grass into their conical bas- 
kets. Taking advantage of the trees we had nearly reached the top 
of the hill, thinking to surprise these quick-eyed beings. Reaching 
the top we found nothing there except the baskets — apparently sud- 
denly dropped and the grass spilled out. There were several bushes 
of a long-stemmed, grass-like shrub, and searching around to see 


what had become of them, we discovered two pairs of naked feet 
sticking out just above the top of the bushes. 

At the shout we raised two girls to whom the feet belonged rolled 
out of the bushes into which they had only time to dive as we neared 
the top of the hills, thinking perhaps that we had not seen them. 
They were but little alarmed and joined in the laugh we had at their 
ostrich-like idea of hiding. It appeared that they belonged to a vil- 
lage not far away towards the hills. Ranging around in that beauti- 
ful climate, gathering where they had not the trouble to sow, these 
people had at that time their life of thorough enjoyment. The oaks 
and pines and grasses gave them abundant vegetable food, and game 
was not shy. 

We crossed several small streams, and found the ground miry 
from the recent rains. The temperature at four in the afternoon was 
70°, and at sunset 58°, with an easterly wind, and the night bright 
and clear. 

The morning of the 26th was clear, and warmer than usual ; the 
wind southeasterly, and the temperature 40°. We travelled across 
the valley plain, and in about sixteen miles reached Feather River 
at twenty miles from its junction with the Sacramento, near the 
mouth of the Yuba, so called from a village of Indians who live on 
it. The river has high banks — twenty or thirty feet — and was here 
one hundred and fifty yards wide, a deep, navigable stream. The 
Indians aided us across the river with canoes and small rafts. Ex- 
tending along the bank in front of the village was a range of wicker 
cribs, about twelve feet high, partly filled with what is there the 
Indians' stafif of life — acorns. A collection of huts, shaped like bee- 
hives, with naked Indians sunning themselves on the tops, and these 
acorn cribs, are the prominent objects in an Indian village. 

There is a fine farm, or rancho, on the Yuba, stocked with about 
three thousand head of cattle, and cultivated principally in wheat, 
with some other grains and vegetables, which are carried by means 
of the river to a market at San Francisco. Mr. [Theodor] Cordua, 
a native of Germany, who is proprietor of the place, informed me 
that his average harvest of wheat was twenty-five bushels to the 
acre, which he supposed would be about the produce of the wheat 
lands in the Sacramento valley. The labor on this and other farms 
in the valley is performed by Indians. 

The temperature here was 74° at two in the afternoon, 71° at 
four, and 69° at sunset, with a northeasterly wind and a clear sky. 


At sunrise of the 27th the temperature was 42°, clear, with a 
northeasterly wind. We travelled northwardly, up the right bank 
of the river, which was wooded with large white and evergreen 
oaks, interspersed with thickets of shrubbery in full bloom. This 
was a pleasant journey of twenty-seven miles, and we encamped at 
the bend of the river, where it turns from the course across the valley 
to run southerly to its junction with the Sacramento. The thermom- 
eter at sunset was 67°, sky partially clouded, with southerly wind. 

The thermometer at sunrise on the 28th was at 45° 5', with a 
northeasterly wind. The road was over an open plain, with a few 
small sloughs or creeks that do not reach the river. After travelling 
about fifteen miles, we encamped on Butte Creek, a beautiful stream 
of clear water about fifty yards wide, with a bold current running 
all the year. It has large, fertile bottoms, wooded with open groves, 
and having a luxuriant growth of pea vine among the grass. The 
oaks here were getting into general bloom. Fine ranchos have been 
selected on both sides of the stream, and stocked with cattle, some of 
which were now very fat. A rancho [Esquon] here is owned by 
[Samuel] Neal, who formerly belonged to my exploring party. It 
may be remembered that in my last expedition I had acceded to his 
request to be left at Sutter's where he was offered high wages, with 
a certain prospect of betterment, where good mechanics were in 
great request. He was a skilful blacksmith, and had been and was 
very useful to me, as our horses' feet were one of the first cares. But 
his uniform good conduct rendered him worthy of any favor I could 
grant, and he was accordingly left at Sutter's when we resumed our 
march homeward. In the brief time which had elapsed he had suc- 
ceeded in becoming a prospering stockman, with a good rancho. 
There is a rancheria (Indian village) near by, and some of the In- 
dians gladly ran races for the head and offals of a fat cow which had 
been presented to us. They were entirely naked. The thermometer 
at two in the afternoon was at 70°, two hours later at 74°, and 65° 
at sunset; the wind east, and the sky clear only in the west. 

The temperature at sunrise the next day was 50°, with cumuli 
in the south and west, which left a clear sky at nine, with a north- 
west wind, and temperature of 64°. We travelled twenty miles, and 
encamped on Pine Creek, another fine stream, with bottoms of 
fertile land, wooded with groves of large and handsome oaks, some 
attaining to six feet in diameter, and forty to seventy feet in height. 


At four in the afternoon, the thermometer showed 74° and 64° at 
sunset; and the sky clear, except in the horizon. 

March 30. — The sun rose in masses of clouds over the eastern 
mountains. A pleasant morning, with a sunrise temperature of 46° 
5', and some mosquitoes — never seen, it is said, in the coast country; 
but at seasons of high water abundant and venomous in the bottoms 
of the Joaquin and Sacramento. On the tributaries nearer the moun- 
tains but few are seen, and those go with the sun. Continuing up 
the valley, we crossed in a short distance a large wooded creek, 
having now about thirty-five feet breadth of water. Our road was 
over an upland prairie of the Sacramento, having a yellowish, 
gravelly soil, generally two or three miles from the river, and twelve 
or fifteen from the foot of the eastern mountains. On the west it 
was twenty-five or thirty miles to the foot of the mountains, which 
here make a bed of high and broken ranges. In the afternoon, about 
half a mile above its mouth, we encamped on Deer Creek, another 
of these beautiful tributaries of the Sacramento. It has the usual 
broad and fertile bottom-lands common to these streams, wooded 
with groves of oak and a large sycamore {platanus occidefitalis), 
distinguished by bearing its balls in strings of three to five, and 
peculiar to California. Mr. Lassen, a native of Germany, has estab- 
lished a rancho here, which he has stocked, and is gradually bring- 
ing into cultivation."* Wheat, as generally throughout the north 
country, gives large returns; cotton, planted in the way of experi- 
ment, was not injured by frost, and succeeded well; and he has 
lately planted a vineyard, for which the Sacramento valley is con- 
sidered to be singularly well adapted. The seasons arc not yet suffi- 
ciendy understood, and too litde has been done in agriculture, to 
afford certain knowledge of the capacities of the country. This farm 
is in the 40th degree of latitude; our position on the river being in 
39° 57 00", and 'longitude 121° 56' 44" west from Greenwich, ^and 
elevation above the sea five hundred and sixty feet. About three 
miles above the mouth of this stream are the first rapids — the pres- 
ent head of navigation — in the Sacramento River, which, from the 
rapids to its mouth in the bay, is more than two hundred miles 
long, and increasing in breadth from one hundred and fifty yards 
to six hundred yards in the lower part of its course. 

During six days that we remained here, from the 30th March 
to the 5th April, the mean temperature was 40° at sunrise, 52°. 5 at 


nine in the morning, 57°. 2 at noon, 59°. 4 at two in the afternoon, 
58°. 8 at four, and 52° at sunset; and at the corresponding times the 
dew point was at 37°.0, 4r.O, 38°.l, 39°.6, 44°.9, 40°.5; and the 
moisture in a cubic foot of air 2.838 grs., 3.179 grs. 2.935 grs., 3.034 
grs., 3.766 grs., 3.150 grs. respectively. Much cloudy weather and 
some showers of rain, during this interval, considerably reduced the 
temperature, which rose with fine weather on the 5th. Salmon was 
now abundant in the Sacramento. Those which we obtained were 
generally between three and four feet in length, and appeared to be 
of two distinct kinds. It is said that as many as four different kinds 
ascend the river at different periods. The great abundance in which 
this fish is found gives it an important place among the resources 
of the country. The salmon crowd in immense numbers up the 
Umpqua, Tlamath [Klamath], and Trinity Rivers, and into every 
little river and creek on the coast north of the Bay of San Francisco; 
and up the San Joaquin River, into the Stanislaus, beyond which the 
Indians say they do not go. Entering all the rivers of the coast far 
to the north, and finding their way up into the smaller branches 
which penetrate the forests of the interior country, climbing up 
cataracts and lesser falls, this fish had a large share in supporting 
the Indians — who raised nothing, but lived on what Nature gave. 
"A Salmon-Water," as they named it, was a valuable possession to 
a tribe or village, and jealously preserved as an inheritance. I found 
the "Salmon-waters" in the forests along the eastern flank of the 
Cascade range below the Columbia River. 

In the evening of the 5th we resumed our journey northward,*' 
and encamped on a little creek near the Sacramento, where an 
emigrant from "the States" was establishing himself, and had al- 
ready built a house. It is a handsome place, wooded with groves of 
oak, and along the creek are sycamore, ash, cottonwood, and willow. 
The day was fine, with a northwest wind. 

The temperature at sunrise the next day (April 6th) was 42°, 
with a northeasterly wind. We continued up the Sacramento, which 
we crossed in canoes at a farm on the right bank of the river. The 
Sacramento was here about one hundred and forty yards wide, and 
with the actual stage of water, which I was informed continued 
several months, navigable for a steamboat. We encamped a few 
miles above, on a creek wooded principally with large oaks. Grass 
was good and abundant, with wild oats and pea vine in the bottoms. 
The day was fine, with a cool northwesterly breeze, which had in 


it the air of the high mountains. The wild oats here were not yet 

The snowy peak of Shastl | Shasta] bore directly north, showing 
out high above the other mountains. Temperature at sunset 57°, 
with a west wind and sky partly clouded. 

April 7. — The temperature at sunrise was 37°, with a moist air; 
and a faintly clouded sky indicated that the wind was southerly 
along the coast. We travelled toward the Shastl peak, the mountain 
ranges on both sides of the valleys being high and rugged, and 
snow-covered. Some remarkable peaks in the Sierra, to the eastward, 
are called the Sisters, and, nearly opposite, the Coast Range shows 
a prominent peak, to which in remembrance of my friend Senator 
Linn, I gave the name Mount Linn,' as an enduring monument 
to recall the prolonged services rendered by him in securing to the 
country our Oregon coast. I trust this reason will protect it from 
change. These giant monuments, rising above the country and seen 
from afar, keep alive and present with the people the memory of 
patriotic men, and so continue their good services after death. 
Mount Linn and Mount Shastl keep open to the passing glance 
each an interesting page of the country's history — the one recording 
a successful struggle for the ocean boundary which it overlooks, 
the other the story of a strange people passed away. And so, too, 
these natural towers call attention from the detail of daily occupa- 
tion to the larger duties which should influence the lives of men. 

Leaving the Sacramento, at a stream called Red Bank Creek, 
we entered on a high and somewhat broken upland, timbered with 
at least four varieties of oaks, with mansanita {arbutus Menziesii) 
\Arctostaphylos sp.] and other shrubbery interspersed. The man- 
sanita is the strange shrub which I met in March of '44 in coming 
down from the Sierra Nevada to Sutter's Fort, and which in my 
journal of that time I described as follows: "A new and singular 
shrub, which had made its appearance since crossing the mountain, 
was very frequent to-day. It branched out near the ground, forming 
a clump eight to ten feet high, with pale green leaves of an oval 
form, and the body and branches had a naked appearance as if 
stripped of the bark, which is very smooth and thin, of a chocolate 
color, contrasting well with the pale green of the leaves." Out of 
its red berries the Indians made a cider which, put to cool in the 
running streams, makes a pleasant, refreshing drink. A remarkable 
species of pine, having leaves in threes (sometimes six to nine 


inches long), with bluish foliage, and a spreading, oak-shaped top, 
was scattered through the timber. I have remarked that this tree 
grows lower down the mountains than the other pines, being found 
familiarly associated with oaks, the first met after leaving the open 
valleys, and seeming to like a warm climate. It seems that even 
among inanimate things association levels differences. This tree, 
growing among oaks, forgets its narrow piny form and color, and 
takes the spreaded shape of the oaks, their broad summits, and lesser 
heights. Flowers were as usual abundant. The splendid California 
poppy characterized all the route along the valley. A species of clo- 
ver was in bloom, and the berries of the mansanita were beginning 
to redden on some trees, while others were still in bloom. We en- 
camped, at an elevation of about one thousand feet above the sea, 
on a large stream called Cottonwood Creek, wooded on the bottoms 
with oaks, and with cotton-woods along the bed, which is sandy 
and gravelly. The water was at this time about twenty yards wide, 
but is frequently fifty. The face of the country traversed during the 
day was gravelly, and the bottoms of the creek where we encamped 
have a sandy soil. 

There are six or seven rancherias of Indians on the Sacramento 
River between the farm where we had crossed the Sacramento and 
the mouth of this creek, and many others in the mountains about 
the heads of these streams. 

The next morning was cloudy, threatening rain, but the sky grew 
brighter as the sun rose, and a southerly wind changed to north- 
west, which brought, as it never fails to bring, clear weather. 

We continued sixteen miles up the valley, and encamped on the 
Sacramento River. In the afternoon (April 8th) the weather again 
grew thick and in the evening rain began to fall in the valley and 
snow on the mountains. We were now near the head of the lower 
valley, and the face of the country and the weather began sensibly 
to show the influence of the rugged mountains which surround and 
terminate it. 

The valley of the Sacramento is divided into upper and lower — 
the lower two hundred miles long, the upper known to the trappers 
as Pitt [Pit] river, about one hundred and fifty; and the latter not 
merely entitled to the distinction of upper, as being higher up the 
river, but also as having a superior elevation of some thousands of 
feet above it. The division is strongly and geographically marked. 
The Shastl peak stands at the head of the lower valley, rising from 


a base of about one thousand feet out of a forest of heavy timber. 
It ascends like an immense column upwards of fourteen thousand 
feet (nearly the height of Mont Blanc),'^ the summit glistening with 
snow, and visible, from favorable points of view, at a distance of 
one hundred and forty miles down the valley. The river here, in 
descending from the upper valley, plunges down through a caiion, 
falling two thousand feet in twenty miles. This upper valley is one 
hundred and fifty miles long, heavily timbered, the climate and 
production modified by its altitude, its more northern position, and 
the proximity and elevation of the neighboring mountains covered 
with snow. It contains valleys of arable land, and is deemed capable 
of settlement. Added to the lower valley, it makes the whole valley 
of the Sacramento three hundred and fifty miles long. 

April 9. — At ten o'clock the rain which commenced the previous 
evening had ceased, and the clouds clearing away, we boated the 
river, and continued our journey eastward toward the foot of the 
Sierra. The Sacramento bottoms here are broad and prettily wooded, 
with soil of a sandy character. Our way led through very handsome, 
open woods, principally of oaks, mingled with a considerable quan- 
tity of the oak-shaped pine. Interspersed among these were bosquets 
or thickets of mansanita, and an abundant white-flowering shrub, 
now entirely covered with small blossoms. The head of the valley 
here (lower valley) is watered by many small streams, having fertile 
bottom lands, with a good range of grass and acorns. In about six 
miles we crossed a creek twenty or twenty-five feet wide, and several 
miles farther descended into the broad bottoms of a swift stream 
about twenty yards wide, called Cow Creek, so named as being the 
range of a small band of cattle, which ran off here from a party on 
their way to Oregon. They are entirely wild, and are hunted like 
other game. A large band of antelope was seen in the timber, and 
five or six deer came darting through the woods. An antelope and 
several deer were killed. There appear to be two species of these 
deer — both of the kind generally called black-tailed; one, a larger 
species frequenting the prairies and lower grounds; the other, much 
smaller, and found in the mountains only. The mountains in the 
northeast were black with clouds when we reached the creek, and 
very soon a fierce hailstorm burst down on us, scattering our ani- 
mals and covering the ground an inch in depth with hailstones 
about the size of wild cherries. The face of the country appeared 
as whitened by a fall of snow, and the weather became unpleasantly 


cold. The evening closed in with rain, and thunder rolling around 
the hills. Our elevation here vv^as between one thousand and eleven 
hundred feet. At sunrise the next morning the thermometer was at 
33°. The surrounding mountains showed a continuous line of snow, 
and the high peaks looked wintry. Turning to the southward, we 
retraced our steps down the valley, and reached Lassen's, on Deer 
River, on the evening of the 11th. The Sacramento bottoms between 
Antelope and Deer River were covered with oats, which had at- 
tained their full height, growing as in sown fields. The country here 
exhibited the maturity of spring. The California poppy was every- 
where forming seed-pods, and many plants were in flower and seed 
together. Some varieties of clover were just beginning to bloom. 
By the middle of the month the seed-vessels of the California poppy 
which, from its characteristic abundance, is a prominent feature in 
the vegetation, had attained their full size; but the seeds of this and 
many other plants, although fully formed, were still green-colored, 
and not entirely ripe. At this time I obtained from the San Joaquin 
valley seeds of the poppy, and other plants, black and fully ripe, 
while they still remained green in this part of the Sacramento — the 
effect of a warmer climate in the valley of the San Joaquin, The 
mean temperature for fourteen days, from the 10th to the 24th of 
April, was 43° at sunrise, 58° at nine in the morning, 64° at noon, 
66° at two in the afternoon, 69° at four, and 58° at sunset (latitude 
40°). The thermometer ranged at sunrise from 38° to 51°, at four 
(which is the hottest of those hours of the day when the temperature 
was noted) from 53° to 88°, and at sunset from 49° to 65°. The 
dew point was 40°. 3 at sunrise, 47°. 3 at 9 in the morning, 46°.l at 
noon, 49°. 2 at 2 in the afternoon, 49°. 2 at 4, and 46°. 6 at sunset; 
and the quantity of moisture in a cubic foot of air at corresponding 
times was 3.104 grs., 3.882 grs., 3.807 grs., 4.213 grs., 4.217 grs., 
3.884 grs., respectively. The winds fluctuated between northwest 
and southeast, the temperature depending more upon the state of 
the sky than the direction of the winds — a clouded sky always 
lowering the thermometer fifteen or twenty degrees in a short time. 
For the greater number of the days above given the sky was covered 
and the atmosphere frequently thick with rain at intervals from the 
19th to the 23d. 

Here at Lassen's I set up the transit and during the nights of the 
14th and 16th (April) obtained good observations of moon culmi- 
nations which established the longitude of the place in 120° 56' 44'', 


latitude obtained 39° 57' 04". This was the third of my main sta- 
tions and the place of observation was upon Deer River half a mile 
above its mouth in the Sacramento and opposite Lassen's house. 

On the 24th I left Lassen's, intending to penetrate the country, 
along the Cascade ranges north into Oregon, and connect there with 
the line of my journey of '43, which lay up the Fall [Deschutes] 
River of the Columbia and south to the great savannah, or grassy 
meadow-lake through which flows from among the ridges of the 
Cascade Mountains the principal tributary or rather the main stream 
of the waters which make the Tlamath Lake and River. It is a 
timbered country, clothed with heavy pine forests that nourish 
many streams. 

Travelling up the Sacramento over ground already described, we 
reached the head of the lower valley in the evening of the second 
day and in the morning of the 26th left the Sacramento, going up 
one of the many pretty little streams that flow into the main river 
around the head of the lower valley." On either side low, steep 
ridges were covered along their summits with pines, and oaks oc- 
cupied the somewhat broad bottom of the creek. Snowy peaks which 
made the horizon on the right gave a cool tone to the landscape, 
and the thermometer showed a temperature of 71°, but there was 
no breeze and the air was still and hot. There were many runs and 
small streams, with much bottom-land, and the abundant grass and 
acorns, both of excellent quality, made it a favorite resort for game. 
The frequent appearance of game furnished excitement, and to- 
gether with the fine weather, which made mere breathing an en- 
joyment, kept the party in exhilarated spirits. At our encampment 
among oak groves in the evening, we found ourselves apparently 
in a bear garden, where the rough denizens resented our intrusion 
and made a lively time for the hunters, who succeeded in killing 
four of them after we had encamped. During our skirmishing 
among the bear this afternoon we had overtaken and slightly 
wounded one, just enough to irritate him. At this moment Dela- 
ware Charley's horse fell near by the bear. To save Charley we had 
all to close in on the bear, who was fortunately killed before he 
could get the Delaware. In his fall the hammer of his gun struck 
Charley on the bridge of his nose and broke it in the middle. We 
had no surgeon, but I managed to get it into good shape and it 
healed without trace of injury. I was always proud of this surgical 
operation, and the Delaware was especially pleased. He was a fine- 


. '-' f . ~' '-t - ^^' :' ■""-?- - vV . "' : 




looking young man, and naively vain of his handsome face, which 
now had a nose unusual among his people; the aquiline arch had 
been broken to knit into a clear straight line, of which he became 
very vain. 

At sunset the weather was pleasant, with a temperature of 56°. 
I had only an observation for latitude, which put the camp in 40° 
38' 58", and the elevation above the sea was one thpusand and 
eighty feet. The day following we found a good way along a flat 
ridge; there was a pretty stream in a mountain valley on the right, 
and the face of the country was already beginning to assume a 
mountainous character, wooded with mingled oak and long-leaved 
pine, and having a surface of scattered rocks, with grass or flowers, 
among them the three-leaved poppy, its parti-colored blossoms wav- 
ing on the long stem above the grass, and gaining for itself the 
name mariposas, already mentioned because of its resembling living 
butterflies. I speak often of the grass and the flowers, but I have 
learned to value the one and the other lends a beauty to the scenery 
which I do not like to omit, and the reader can always imagine for 
himself the brightness they give when once he has had described 
the glorious flowers of this country, where the most lovely hues 
are spread in fields over both hill and plain. At noon, when we were 
crossing a high ridge, the temperature was down to 61°, and where 
we encamped at an elevation of two thousand four hundred and 
sixty feet, on a creek that went roaring into the valley, the sunset 
temperature was 52°. 

The next day I continued up the stream on which we had slept, 
and with it the mountain slope rose rapidly, clothed with heavy 
timber. On crossing one of the high ridges, snow and the great 
[sugar] pine [Phms] Lambertiani appeared together, and an hour 
before noon we reached a pass in the main ridge of the Sierra 
Nevada, in an open pine forest at an elevation of only four thousand 
six hundred feet, where the snow was in patches and the deciduous 
oaks were mingled with the pines. The thermometer was at 50°, and 
we were not above the upper limit of the oak region. This pass is 
in about the fortieth degree of latitude, and is in the terminating 
point of the northern link of the Sierra Nevada chain, which the 
Cascade range takes up with the link of the Shastl peak. Between 
the points of these links the upper Sacramento River breaks down 
on its way to the Bay of San Francisco and the Tlamath River to 
the sea. 


Going through this pass and descending the mountain, we entered 
into what may be called a basin or mountain valley, lying north 
and south along the ranges of the Cascade Mountains. Here we 
found a region very different from the valley of California. We 
had left behind the soft, delightful climate of the coast, from which 
we were cut off by the high, snowy mountains, and had ascended 
into one resembling that of the Great Basin, and under the influence 
of the same elevation above the sea; but more fertile and having 
much forest land, and well watered. The face of the country was 
different from that of the valley which we had just left, being open 
and more spread into plain, in which there were frequent lakes as 
well as rivers. The soil itself is different; sometimes bare. At times 
we travelled over stretches in the forest where the soil was a gray 
or yellowish-white pumice-stone, like that which I have seen along 
the Cascade range in travelling south from the Columbia River, 
where the soil was covered with splendid pine forests, but where 
there was hardly a blade of grass to be found. Very different from 
this the compact growth of grass and flowers which belong to the 
California valley, where the rich soil had accumulated the wash 
of ages from the mountains, and where the well-watered land and 
moisture of the air combine to cover the country with its uncommon 
and profuse vegetation. The country where we now were was not 
known to any of the men with me, and I was not able to communi- 
cate with any of the Indians, who in this region were unfriendly — 
from these I might have learned the names by which the natural 
features were known to them. Except in some of its leading features 
I regarded this district as not within the limits of fixed geography, 
and therefore I thought it well to give names to these; to some at 
the time, and to others afterward, when I came to making up a 
map of the country. And this was also necessary, as otherwise I could 
not conveniently refer to them. 

On the 29th of April I encamped on the upper Sacramento [Pit 
River], above Fall River, which is tributary to it. I obtained observa- 
tions here, which gave for longitude 121° 07' 59", and for latitude 
40° 58' 43"; and the next day again encamped on it at the upper 
end of a valley, to which, from its marked form, I gave the name 
Roujid Valley [Big Valley]. By observation the longitude here is 
12r or 23", latitude 41° 17' 17''. On the first of May I encamped 
on the southeastern end of a lake, which afterwards I named Lake 
Rhett [Tule Lake, which has been reclaimed] in friendly remem- 


brance of Mr. Barnwell Rhett, of South Carolina, who is connected 
with one of the events of my life which brought with it an abiding 
satisfaction/" I obtained observations here which placed this end 
of the lake in longitude 121 ° 15' 24", and latitude 41 ° 48' 49". 

This camp was some twenty-five or thirty miles from the lava 
beds, near which Major-General [E. R. S.] Canby was killed by the 
Modocs, twenty-seven years later; and when there was some of the 
hardest fighting known in Indian history between them and our 
troops. ^^ 

This Indian fighting is always close, incurring more certain risk 
of life and far more sanguinary, than in the ordinary contests be- 
tween civilized troops. Every Indian fights with intention, and for 
all that is in him; he waits for no orders, but has every effort con- 
centrated on his intention to kill. And, singularly, this Indian fight- 
ing, which calls for the utmost skill and courage on the part of men, 
is not appreciated by the Government, or held worthy of the notice 
given to the milder civilized warfare. 

When we left Round Valley in the morning Archambeau[lt], 
who was an inveterate hunter, had gone off among the hills and 
towards the mountain in search of game. 

We had now entered more into the open country, though still a 
valley or high upland along the foot of the main ridge, and were 
travelling north; but the route of the day is often diverted from its 
general course by accidents of country and for convenient camping 
grounds. Archambeau did not come in at night, and when the 
morning came and did not bring him I did not move camp, but 
sent out men to look for him. Since leaving the California Moun- 
tains we had seen no Indians, though frequently we came upon 
their tracks and other sign. All through this country there were 
traces of them. Doubtless our camp-fires had discovered us to them, 
but they hovered around out of our way and out of sight. The 
second dav passed and still no trace of Archambeau had been found, 
and the greater part of the third was passed in scouring the country. 
There would have been little difficulty in a prairie region, but in a 
broken or hilly country much ground cannot be covered and the 
search is restricted to a small area. We had now been in camp three 
days and I began to be seriouslv disturbed by his absence. Game 
had been found scarce in the immediate neighborhood. He had noth- 
ing with him but a little dried meat when he turned off from the 
party, expecting to rejoin us before night, and the Indians in the 


region through which we were travelHng were known to be hostile 
and treacherous, with a fixed character for daring. Parties from as 
far north as the Hudson Bay Company's post who had penetrated 
here had met with some rough experiences, and the story of trapper 
adventure hereabout was full of disaster.^^ On one occasion a large 
party of trappers from the north were encamped on one of the 
streams of the Cascade range, and having been led into carelessness 
by the apparent friendly conduct of the Indians, were every man 
killed/'"^ It was easy to waylay a single man, especially if he were 
intent on game. I had always been careful of my men, and in all 
my journeyings lost but few, and with rare exceptions those were 
by accident or imprudence. Naturally disposed that way, I had al- 
ways endeavored to provide for their safety so far as the nature of 
our exposed life permitted, for in case of accident, as we had no 
surgeon, I was myself the only resource. A man lost from camp 
was likely also to lose his life. In such circumstances every hour 
increases the danger of his situation.. And so about sunset we were 
greatly relieved when a shout from the men on guard roused the 
camp and we saw Archambeau creeping slowly in, man and horse 
equally worn out. Searching for game, he had been led off and 
entangled among the hills until the coming night roused him and 
the darkness cut ofT all chance of reaching camp. His search was as 
fruitless on the following days. He did not meet game, and his 
horse being kept close at hand at night had no chance to feed, and 
was nearly as tired as himself. And he had probably owed his life 
to his good eyes. These were unusually fine, with an instant quick- 
ness to catch a moving object or any slight difference in color or 
form of what lay before him. I was riding with him on the prairie 
one day, off from the party, when he suddenly halted. "Stop," he 
said, "I see an antelope's horns." About fifty steps away an antelope 
was lying in the tall grass, and the top of its horn was barely visible 
above it, but he not only saw it but shot and killed it. And this time 
his eyes had served him well again. They were ranging around 
taking in all before him when he caught sight of a party of Indians. 
They were travelling directly across his line of way, making towards 
the coast mountains, probably going to some river in which there 
were salmon. If they had been coming towards him they would 
have seen him, or if they had crossed his trail behind him his life 
would have been lost. He saw them as they were coming up out of 
a broad ravine and in the instant got his horse out of sight down the 


-sr^ rm-j g x r^r' :a'js?'-.f — r^^r-y 

V 1 


slope of a hill, "My heart was in my mouth for a moment," he said. 
The danger of his situation had already brought on the hurry and 
excitement which often deprives a man of all prudence. In such 
mishaps a man quickly loses his head, but at this stage, happily, he 
struck our trail. 

The arrival of Archambeau relieved and spread pleasure through 
the camp, where he was a general favorite. He was Canadian, tall, 
fine looking, very cheerful, and with all the gayety of the voyageur 
before hard work and a rough life had driven it out. He had that 
light, elastic French temperament that makes a cheerful companion 
in travelling; which in my experience brings out all there is of good 
or bad in a man. I loved to have my camp cheerful and took care 
always for the health and comfort which carry good temper with 
them. Usually, on leaving the frontier, I provided the men with 
tents or lodges, but by the time we had been a month or two on the 
road, they would come to me to say that it was hard on them to 
have to put up their lodge at night when they were tired, and that 
they made a delay in the morning when starting. So usually their 
shelters were gladly left behind and they took the weather as it 

Meantime the days while we had been waiting here were not 
lost. Our animals had been resting on good grass, and when in the 
morning the welcome order was given to move camp, they made the 
lively scene which Mr. Kern gives in the picture [p. 101]. This was 
an order which the animals were always prone to resist promptly, 
and their three days' rest made them do it now with unusual vigor. 
But the men, too, refreshed by rest and cheered by the recovery of 
their companion, entered with equal spirit into the fray, and soon 
we were again on the trail, the animals settled down to their orderly 

Archambeau was himself again in the morning after a night's 
rest, and good meals among companions, but his horse was let to 
run loose for some days, in order to recover its useful strength. With 
the animals refreshed we made a long stretch and encamped on a 
stream flowing into Lake Rhett, which I called McCrady [Lost 
River]. This was the name of one of my boyhood's friends [Edward 
McCrady], living in Charleston, who came this evening into my 
mind, and I left his memory on the stream. In such work as I was 
engaged in there is always much time for thinking, or ruminating. 


as it may better be called; not upon the road, but often at night, 
waiting for the hour when the work belonging to it may begin. 

In the forenoon of the sixth we reached the Tlamath Lake [Upper 
Klamath Lake] at its outlet, which is by a fine, broad stream, not 
fordable. This is a great fishing station for the Indians, and we met 
here the first we had seen since leaving the lower valley. They have 
fixed habitations around the shores of the lake, particularly at the 
outlet and inlet, and along the inlet up to the swamp meadow, 
where I met the Tlamaths in the winter of '43-44, and where we 
narrowly escaped disaster. 

Our arrival took them by surprise, and though they received us 
with apparent friendship, there was no warmth in it, but a shyness 
which came naturally from their habit of hostility. 

At the outlet here were some of their permanent huts. From the 
lake to the sea I judged the river to be about two hundred miles 
long; it breaks its way south of the huge bulk of Shastl Peak be- 
tween the points of the Cascade and Nevada ranges to the sea. Up 
this river the salmon crowd in great numbers to the lake, which is 
more than four thousand feet above the sea. It was a bright spring 
morning, and the lake and its surrounding scenery looked charm- 
ing. It was inviting, and I would have been glad to range over it 
in one of the Indian canoes. The silent shores and unknown moun- 
tains had the attraction which mystery gives always. It was all wild 
and unexplored, and the uninvaded silence roused curiosity and 
invited research. Indigenous, the Indians like the rocks and trees 
seemed part of the soil, growing in a state of rude nature like the 
vegetation, and like it nourished and fed by nature. And so it had 
been back to a time of which nothing was known. All here was in 
the true aboriginal condition, but I had no time now for idling days, 
and I had to lose the pleasure to which the view before me invited. 
Mr. Kern made the picture of it [p. 104] while we were trading 
with the Indians for dried fish and salmon, and ferrying the camp 
equipage across the outlet in their canoes. 

The Indians made me understand that there was another large 
river [Williamson] which came from the north and flowed into 
the lake at the northern end, and that the principal village was at 
its mouth, where also they caught many fish. 

Resuming our journey, we worked our way along between the 
lake and the mountain, and late in the day made camp at a run, near 



where it issued from the woods into the lake and where our animals 
had good feed. For something which happened afterward, I gave 
this run the name of Denny's Branch. Animals and men all fared 
well here. 

May 7. — The weather continued refreshingly cool. Our way led 
always between the lake and the foot of the mountains, frequently 
rough and blocked by decaying logs and fallen trees, where patches 
of snow still remained in the shade, over ground rarely trodden 
even by an Indian foot. In the timber the snow was heavy and 
naturally much heavier towards the summits and in the passes of 
the mountains, where the winter still held sway. This year it had 
continued late and rough. In the late afternoon we reached a piece 
of open ground through which a stream ran towards the lake. Here 
the mountain receded a little, leaving a flat where the woods, which 
still occupied the ground, left us a convenient open space by the 
water, and where there was grass abundant. On the way along from 
the outlet no Indians had been seen and no other sign of life, but 
now and then when the lake was visible a canoe might be seen 
glancing along. But in the morning, as we were about to leave camp, 
a number of them came in. I could not clearly find where they had 
come from, though they pointed up the lake. Perhaps from some 
valley in the mountain on this stream, or perhaps they had followed 
our trail. This was most likely, but if so they were not willing to 
tell. They would not have done so with any good intent, and they 
knew well enough that we were aware of it. They said that they 
were hungry, and I had some mules unpacked and gave them part 
of our remaining scanty supply of dried meat and the usual present 
which an Indian, wild or tame, always instinctively expects. 

We continued our route over the same kind of ground, rendered 
difficult by the obstructions which the wash of the rain and snow, 
and the fallen timber, the undisturbed accumulations of the many 
years, had placed in these forests. Crossing spurs of mountains and 
working around the bays or coves between the ridges or winding 
among the hills, it is surprising how a long day's march dwindles 
away to a few miles when it comes to be laid down between the 
rigorous astronomical stations. We had travelled in this direction 
many such days when we encamped in the afternoon of the 8th of 
May. A glance at the mountains, which are shown in the view of 
the lake, gives some idea of the character of this unexplored region. 
By unexplored, I wish to be understood to say that it had never been 


explored or mapped, or in any way brought to common knowledge, 
or rarely visited except by strong parties of trappers, and by those 
at remote intervals, doubtless never by trappers singly. It was a true 
wilderness. There was the great range of mountains behind the 
coast, and behind it the lakes and rivers known to the trappers, and 
that was all, and the interest attached to it was chiefly from the 
disaster which had befallen them. And from their reports, rude and 
exaggerated outlines, and Turtle Lakes and Buenaventura Rivers, 
had been marked down at the stations of the Fur Company." All 
this gave the country a charm for me. It would have been dull work 
if it had been to plod over a safe country and here and there to 
correct some old error. 

And I had my work all planned. The friendly reader — and I hope 
that no unfriendly eyes will travel along with me over these lines; 
the friends may be few and the many are the neutral minds who 
read without reference to the writer, solely for the interest they 
find. To these I write freely, letting the hues of my mind color the 
paper, feeling myself on pleasant terms with them, giving to them 
in a manner a life confession in which I hope they find interest, 
and expecting to find them considerate and weighing fairly, and 
sometimes condoning the events as we pass them in review. My 
reading friend, then, who has travelled with me thus far will re- 
member that some seventeen months before this time, in the Decem- 
ber of '43, in coming south from the Columbia, I encamped on a 
large savannah, or meadow-lake [Klamath Marsh], which made 
the southern limit of my journey. I met there a Tlamath chief and 
his wife, who had come out to meet me and share his fate, whether 
good or bad, and the chief had afterward accompanied me and 
piloted me on my way through the forest and the snow. Where I 
had encamped this night I was only some twenty miles in an air-line 
from their village and I was promising myself some pleasure in 
seeing them again. According to what the Indians at the south end 
of the lake had told me, I had only to travel eastward a short march 
and I would find a large village at the inlet of the river, which I 
knew must be that on which my friendly chief lived, some twenty 
miles above. And his Indians, too, like all the others along these 
mountains, had the character of normal hostility to the whites. 

My plans when I started on my journey into this region were to 
connect my present survey of the intervening country with my camp 
on the savannah, where I had met the Tlamaths in that December; 

1 06 

and I wished to penetrate among the mountains of the Cascade 
ranges. As I have said, except for the few trappers who had searched 
the streams leading to the ocean, for beaver, I felt sure that these 
mountains were absolutely unknown. No one had penetrated their 
recesses to know what they contained, and no one had climbed to 
their summits; and there remained the great attraction of mystery 
in going into unknown places — the unknown lands of which I had 
dreamed when I began this life of frontier travel. And possibly, I 
thought, when I should descend their western flanks some safe har- 
bor might yet be found by careful search along that coast, where 
harbors were so few; and perhaps good passages from the interior 
through these mountains to the sea. I thought that until the snow 
should go off the lower part of the mountains I might occupy what 
remained of the spring by a survey of the Tlamath River to its heads, 
and make a good map of the country along the base of the moun- 
tains. And if we should not find game enough to live upon, we 
could employ the Indians to get supplies of salmon and other fish. 
But I felt sure that there was game in the woods of these mountains 
as well as those more to the south. Travelling along the northern 
part of this range in December of '43, I had seen elk tracks in the 
snow, and at an old Cayuse village in the pine forest at the foot of 
the mountains, only about sixty miles farther north, there were many 
deer horns lying around. This showed that we should probably find 
both elk and deer, and bear, in the mountains, and certainly on the 
slope towards the sea, where every variety of climate would be found, 
and every variety of mast-bearing trees, as in the oak region of the 
Sierra Nevada. And I had not forgotten how fascinated I had been 
with the winter beauty of the snowy range farther north, when at 
sunrise and at sunset their rose-colored peaks stood up out of the dark 
pine forests into the clear light of the sky. And my thoughts took the 
same color when I remembered that Mr. Kern, who had his colors 
with him, could hold these lovely views in all their delicate coloring. 
How fate pursues a man! Thinking and ruminating over these 
things, I was standing alone by my camp-fire, enjoying its warmth, 
for the night air of early spring is chill under the shadows of the 
high mountains. Suddenly my ear caught the faint sound of horses' 
feet, and while I was watching and listening as the sounds, so 
strange hereabout, came nearer, there emerged from the darkness — 
into the circle of the firelight — two horsemen, riding slowly as 
though horse and man were fatigued by long travelling. In the 


foremost I recognized the familiar face of Neal, with a companion 
whom I also knew. They had ridden nearly a hundred miles in the 
last two days, having been sent forward by a United States officer 
who was on my trail with despatches for me; but Neal doubted if 
he would get through. After their horses had been turned into the 
band and they were seated by my fire, refreshing themselves with 
good coffee while more solid food was being prepared, Neal told 
me his story. The officer who was trying to overtake me was named 
Gillespie.^' He had been sent to California by the Government and 
had letters for delivery to me.^*' Neal knew the great danger from 
Indians in this country, and his party becoming alarmed and my 
trail being fresh, Mr. Gillespie had sent forward Neal and [Levi] 
Sigler upon their best horses to overtake me and inform me of his 
situation. They had left him on the morning of the day before, and 
in the two days had ridden nearly a hundred miles, and this last 
day had severely tried the strength of their horses. When they parted 
from him they had not reached the lake, and for greater safety had 
not kept my trail quite to the outlet, but crossed to the right bank of 
the river, striking my trail again on the lake shore. They had dis- 
covered Indians on my trail after they had left Gillespie, and on the 
upper part of the lake the Indians had tried to cut them off, and they 
had escaped only by the speed and strength of their horses, which Neal 
had brought from his own rancho. He said that in his opinion I 
could not reach Gillespie in time to save him, as he had with him 
only three men and was travelling slow. 

A quick eye and a good horse mean life to a man in an Indian 
country. Neal had both. He was a lover of horses and knew a good 
one; and those he had with him were the best on his rancho. He had 
been sent forward by the messenger to let me know that he was in 
danger of being cut off by the Indians. 

The trail back along the shore at the foot of the mountains was so 
nearly impassable at night that nothing could be gained by attempt- 
ing it, but everything was made ready for an early start in the morn- 
ing. For the relief party, in view of contingencies, I selected ten of 
the best men, including Carson, Stepp, Dick Owens, Godey, Basil, 
and Lajeunesse, with four of the Delawares.^' 

When the excitement of the evening was over I lay down, specu- 
lating far into the night on what could be the urgency of the mes- 
sage which had brought an officer of the Government to search so 
far after me into these mountains. At early dawn [9 May] we took 


the backward trail. Snow and fallen timber made the ride hard and 
long to where I thought to meet the messenger. On the way no In- 
dians were seen and no tracks later than those where they had struck 
Neal's trail. In the afternoon, having made about forty-five miles, 
we reached the spot where the forest made an opening to the lake, 
and where I intended to wait. This was a glade or natural meadow, 
shut in bv the forest, with a small stream and good grass, where I 
had already encamped. I knew that this was the first water to which 
my trail would bring the messenger, and that I was sure to meet him 
here if no harm befell him on the way. The sun was about going 
down when he was seen issuing from the wood, accompanied by 
three men. 

He proved to be an ofEcer of the navy. Lieutenant Archibald Gil- 
lespie of the Marine Corps. We greeted him warmly. All were glad 
to see him, whites and Indians. It was long since any news had 
reached us, and every one was as pleased to see him as if he had 
come freighted with letters from home, for all. It was now eleven 
months since anv tidings had reached me. 

Mr. Gillespie informed me that he had left Washington under 
orders from the President and the Secretary of the Navy, and was 
directed to reach California by the shortest route through Mexico to 

He was directed to find me wherever I might be, and was in- 
formed that I would probably be found on the Sacramento River. In 
pursuance of his instructions he had accordingly started from Mon- 
terey to look for me on the Sacramento. Learning upon his arrival at 
Sutter's Fort that I had gone up the valley, he made up a small party 
at Neal's rancho, and guided bv him, followed my trail and had 
travelled six hundred miles to overtake me; the latter part of the 
wav through great dangers.^^ 

The mission on which I had been original Iv sent to the West was 
a peaceful one, and Mr. Bancroft had sent Mr. Gillespie to give me 
warning of the new state of affairs and the designs of the President. 
Mr. Gillespie had been given charge of despatches from the Secre- 
tary of the Navy to Commodore Sloat, and had been purposely 
made acquainted with their import.^^ Known to Mr. Bancroft as an 
able and thoroughlv trustworthy officer, he had been well in- 
structed in the designs of the Department and with the purposes of 
the Administration, so far as they related to California. 

Through him I now became acquainted with the actual state of 


affairs and the purposes of the Government. The information through 
Gillespie had absolved me from my duty as an explorer, and I was 
left to my duty as an officer of the American Army with the further 
authoritative knowledge that the Government intended to take Cali- 
fornia. I was warned by my Government of the new danger against 
which I was bound to defend myself; and it had been made known 
to me now on the authority of the Secretary of the Navy that to ob- 
tain possession of California was the chief object of the President. 

He brought me also a letter of introduction from the Secretary of 
State, Mr. Buchanan, and letters and papers from Senator Benton 
and family. The letter from the Secretary was directed to me in my 
private or citizen capacity, and though importing nothing beyond 
the introduction, it accredited the bearer to me as coming from the 
Secretary of State, and in connection with the circumstances and 
place of delivery it indicated a purpose in sending it. From the letter 
itself I learned nothing, but it was intelligibly explained to me by 
the accompanying letter from Senator Benton and by communica- 
tions from Lieutenant Gillespie. 

This officer informed me that he had been directed by the Secre- 
tary of State to acquaint me with his instructions, which had for 
their principal objects to ascertain the disposition of the California 
people, to conciliate their feelings in favor of the United States; and 
to find out, with a view to counteracting, the designs of the British 
Government upon that country. 

The letter from Senator Benton, while apparently of friendship 
and family details, contained passages and suggestions which, read 
by the light of many conversations and discussions with himself and 
others at Washington, clearly indicated to me that I was required by 
the Government to find out any foreign schemes in relation to Cali- 
fornia and, so far as might be in my power, to counteract them.^*^ 

Neal had much to talk over with his old companions and pleasur- 
able excitement kept us up late; but before eleven o'clock all were 
wrapped in their blankets and soundly asleep except myself. I sat by 
the fire in fancied security, going over again the home letters. These 
threw their own light upon the communication from Mr. Gillespie, 
and made the expected signal. In substance, their effect was: The 
time has come. England must not get a foothold. We must be first. 
Act; discreetly, but positively. 

Looking back over the contingencies which had been foreseen in 
the discussions at Washington, I saw that the important one which 


carried with it the hopes of Senator Benton and the wishes of the 
Government was in the act of occurring, and it was with thorough 
satisfaction I now found myself required to do what I could to pro- 
mote this object of the President. Viewed by the light of these de- 
liberations in Washington, I was prepared to comprehend fully the 
communications brought to me by Mr. Gillespie.^^ 

Now it was officially made known to me that my country was at 
war,^" and it was so made known expressly to guide my conduct. I 
had learned with certainty from the Secretary of the Navy that the 
President's plan of war included the taking possession of California, 
and under his confidential instructions I had my warrant. Mr. Gil- 
lespie was directed to act in concert with me. Great vigilance and 
activity were expected of us both, for it was desired that possession 
should be had of California before the presence in her ports of any 
foreign vessel of war might make it inconvenient. 

I had about thought out the situation when I was startled by a 
sudden movement among the animals. Lieutenant Gillespie had told 
me that there were no Indians on his trail, and I knew there were 
none on mine. This night was one of two when I failed to put men 
on guard in an Indian country — this night and one spent on an 
island in the Great Salt Lake. The animals were near the shore of 
the lake, barely a hundred yards away. Drawing a revolver I went 
down among them. A mule is a good sentinel, and when he quits 
eating and stands with his ears struck straight out taking notice, it is 
best to see what is the matter. The mules knew that Indians were 
around, but nothing seemed stirring, and my presence quieting the 
animals I returned to the fire and my letters. 

I saw the way opening clear before me. War with Mexico was in- 
evitable; and a grand opportunity now presented itself to realize in 
their fullest extent the far-sighted views of Senator Benton, and 
make the Pacific Ocean the western boundary of the United States. 
I resolved to move forward on the opportunity and return forthwith 
to the Sacramento valley in order to bring to bear all the influences I 
could command. 

Except myself, then and for nine months afterward, there was no 
other officer of the army in California. The citizen party under my 
command was made up of picked men, and although small in num- 
ber, constituted a formidable nucleus for frontier warfare, and many 
of its members commanded the confidence of the emigration. 

This decision was the first step in the conquest of California. 


My mind having settled into this conclusion, I went to my blan- 
kets under a cedar. The camp was divided into three fires, and near 
each one, but well out of the light, were sleeping the men belonging 
to it. Close by along the margin of the wood which shut us in on 
three sides were some low cedars, the ends of their boughs reaching 
nearly to the ground. Under these we made our beds. 

One always likes to have his head sheltered, and a rifle with a 
ramrod or a branch or bush with a blanket thrown over it answers 
very well where there is nothing better. I had barely fallen to sleep 
when I was awakened by the sound of Carson's voice, calling to 
Basil to know "what the matter was over there?" No reply came, 
and immediately the camp was roused by the cry from Kit and 
Owens, who were lying together — "Indians." Basil and the half- 
breed, Denny, had been killed. It was the sound of the axe being 
driven into Basil's head that had awakened Carson. The half-breed 
had been killed with arrows, and his groans had replied to Carson's 
call, and told him what the matter was. No man, with an Indian 
experience, jumps squarely to his feet in a night attack, but in an 
instant every man was at himself. The Delawares who lay near their 
fire on that side sprung to cover, rifle in hand, at the sound of the 
axe. We ran to their aid, Carson and I, Godey, Stepp, and Owens, 
just as the Tlamaths charged into the open ground. The fires were 
smouldering, but gave light enough to show Delaware Crane jump- 
ing like a brave as he was from side to side in Indian fashion, and de- 
fending himself with the butt of his gun. By some mischance his 
rifle was not loaded when he lay down. All this was quick work. 
The moment's silence which followed Carson's shout was broken by 
our rifles. The Tlamath chief, who was at the head of his men, fell 
in front of Crane, who was just down with five arrows in his body 
— three in his breast. The Tlamaths, checked in their onset and 
disconcerted by the fall of their chief, jumped back into the shadow 
of the wood. We threw a blanket over Crane and hung blankets to 
the cedar boughs and bushes near by, behind my camp-fire, for a 
defence against the arrows. The Indians did not dare to put them- 
selves again in the open, but continued to pour in their arrows. They 
made no attempt on our animals, which had been driven up by 
Owens to be under fire of the camp, but made frequent attempts to 
get the body of their chief. We were determined they should not 
have it, and every movement on their part brought a rifle-shot; a 
dozen rifles in such hands at short range made the undertaking too 


hazardous for them to persist in it. While both sides were watching 
each other from under cover, and every movement was followed by 
a rifle-shot or arrow, I heard Carson cry out: "LooI{ at the fool. Loo\ 
at him, will you?" This was to Godey, who had stepped out to the 
light of my fire to look at some little thing which had gone wrong 
with his gun; it was still bright enough to show him distinctly, 
standing there — a fair mark to the arrows — turning resentfully to 
Carson for the epithet bestowed on him, but in no wise hurrying 
himself. He was the most thoroughly insensible to danger of all the 
brave men I have known. 

All night we lay behind our blanket defences, with our rifles 
cocked in our hands, expecting momentarily another attack, until 
the morning light enabled us to see that the Indians had disap- 
peared. By their tracks we found that fifteen or twenty Tlamaths 
had attacked us. It was a sorrowful sight that met our eyes in the 
gray of the morning. Three of our men had been killed: Basil, 
Crane, and the half-breed Denny, and another Delaware had been 
wounded ; one-fourth of our number. The chief who had been killed 
was recognized to be the same Indian who had given Lieutenant 
Gillespie a salmon at the outlet of the lake.^^ Hung to his wrist was 
an English half-axe. Carson seized this and knocked his head to 
pieces with it, and one of the Delawares, Sagundai, scalped him. He 
was left where he fell. In his quiver were forty arrows; as Carson 
said, "the most beautiful and warlike arrows he had ever seen." We 
saw more of them afterward. These arrows were all headed with a 
lancet-like piece of iron or steel — probably obtained from the Hud- 
son Bay Company's traders on the Umpqua — and were poisoned for 
about six inches. They could be driven that depth into a pine tree. 

This event cast an angry gloom over the little camp. For the mo- 
ment I threw all other considerations aside and determined to square 
accounts with these people before I left them. It was only a few 
days back that some of these same Indians had come into our camp, 
and I divided with them what meat I had, and unpacked a mule to 
give them tobacco and knives. 

On leaving the main party I had directed it to gear up as soon as the 
men had breakfasted and follow my trail to a place where we had 
encamped some days back. This would put them now about twenty- 
five miles from us. Packing our dead men on the mules, we started 
to rejoin the main camp, following the trail by which we had come. 
Before we had been two hours on the way many canoes appeared on 


the lake, coming from different directions and apparently making 
for a point where the trail came down to the shore. As we ap- 
proached this point the prolonged cry of a loon told us that their 
scout was giving the Indians warning of our approach. Knowing 
that if we came to a fight the care of our dead men would prove a 
great hindrance and probably cost more lives, I turned sharply off 
into the mountain, and buried, or cached them in a close laurel 

With our knives we dug a shallow grave, and wrapping their 
blankets round them, left them among the laurels. There are men 
above whom the laurels bloom who did not better deserve them than 
my brave Delaware and Basil. I left Denny's name on the creek 
where he died. 

The Indians, thrown out by our sudden movement, failed in their 
intended ambush, and in the afternoon we found our people on the 
stream where we had encamped three days before. All were deeply 
grieved by the loss of our companions. The Delawares were filled 
with grief and rage by the death of Crane and went into mourning, 
blackening their faces. They were soothed somewhat when I told 
them that they should have an opportunity to get rid of their mourn- 
ing and carry home scalps enough to satisfy the friends of Crane and 
the Delaware nation. With blackened faces, set and angry, they sat 
around brooding and waiting for revenge. 

The 'camp was very quiet this evening, the men looking to their 
arms, rubbing and coaxing them. Towards evening I went over to 
the Delaware fire and sat down among them. They were sitting 
around their fire, smoking and silent. It did not need to speak; our 
faces told what we were all thinking about. After a pause I said, 
"Swonok bad luck come this time. Crane was a brave. Good man, 
too. I am very sorry." "Very sick here," he said, striking his hand 
against his breast; "these Delaware all sick." "There are Indians 
around the camp, Swonok," I replied. "Yes, I see him. Me and 
Sagundai and Charley gone out and see him in woods." "How 
many?" "Maybe ten, maybe twenty, maybe more." "Where did they 
go?" "Up mountain. He not long way." "Listen, Swonok, we kill 
some. These same men kill Crane. How best kill him?" The chief's 
eyes glittered and his face relaxed, and all the Delawares raised 
their heads. "You go in morning? Which way?" "Only three, four 
mile, to creek which you know over there," said I pointing up the 
lake; "next day, big Indian village." Swonok turned to Sagundai 


James Sagundai. From a portrait in Fremont's Memoirs. 


and the two chiefs spoke earnestly together for a few moments, the 
others deeply interested, but gravely listening without speaking. 
"Captain," said Sagundai, "in the morning you go little way, stop. 
These Delaware stay here. Indian come in camp, Delaware kill 

In the morning, when we were ready to start, the Delawares rode 
out some moments ahead, halting after a few hundred yards until we 
came up; then, leaving their horses with us, they returned on foot 
and got into a thicket among some young pines near the camp 
ground. We continued our way and halted, no one dismounting, at 
a little run about a quarter of a mile distant. It was not long before 
the stillness was broken by a scattered volley, and after that, noth- 
ing. Shortly Swonok came up. "Better now," he said ; "very sick be- 
fore, better now." They had taken two scalps. The Tlamaths, as 
expected, had rushed into the camp ground, so soon as they thought 
it safe, and met the rifles of the Delawares. Two were killed and 
others wounded, but these were able to get away. Fortunately for 
them, the cracking of a dry branch startled the Tlamaths and the 
Delawares were too eager to shoot as well as usual. I moved on about 
three miles to a stream where the grass was good and encamped. 
Choosing an open spot among the pines we built a solid corral of 
pine logs and branches. It was six feet high and large enough to 
contain all our animals. At nightfall they were driven into it, and we 
took up our quarters outside, against the corral ; the fires being at a 
little distance farther out and lighting up, while they lasted, the 
woods beyond. I obtained observations which put this camp in longi- 
tude 121° 58' 45" and latitude 42° 36' 45". 

Continuing our route along the lake we passed around the ex- 
treme northwestern bay and after a hard day's march encamped in 
the midst of woods, where we built again a corral for the night. In 
the morning there were many canoes on the lake, and Indians had 
been about during the night, but the lesson they had learned served 
to keep them warily aloof in daylight. We were not very far from 
the principal village at the inlet which the Indians whom I had met 
when I first reached the lake had described to me; and the arms be- 
ing all carefully examined and packs made secure, we started for it. 
When within a few miles I sent Carson and Owens ahead with ten 
men, directing them to reconnoitre the position of the Indians, but if 
possible to avoid engaging them until we could come up. But, as we 
neared the mouth of the river, the firing began. The party was dis- 










I— ( 





covered and had no choice but to open the fight, driving the Indians 
who were on this side to the other side of the river. As I rode up I 
saw a dead Indian sitting in the stern of a canoe, which the current 
had driven against the bank. His hand was still grasping the paddle. 
On his feet were shoes which I thought Basil wore when he was 
killed."'' The stream was about sixty yards wide and a rapid just 
above the mouth made it fordable. Without drawing rein we plunged 
in and crossed to the farther side and joined our men who were 
pressed by a large body of Indians. They had abandoned their vil- 
lage and were scattered through a field of sage-brush, in front of the 
woods. But this time the night was not on their side and the attack 
was with us. Their arrows were good at close quarters, but the range 
of the rifle was better. The firing was too severe for them to stand it 
in open ground and they were driven back into the pine woods with 
a loss of fourteen killed. They had intended to make a hard fight. 
Behind the sage-bushes where they had taken their stand every In- 
dian had spread his arrows on the ground in fan-like shape, so that 
they would be ready to his hand. But when our close fire drove them 
from the brush they were compelled to move so quickly that many 
did not have time to gather up their arrows and they lay on the 
ground, the bright, menacing points turned toward us. Quantities of 
fish were drying, spread on scaffolds, or hung up on frames. The 
huts, which were made of tall rushes and willow, like those on the 
savannah above, were set on fire, and the fish and scaffolds were all 

About a mile from the village I made my camp on a dairiere in 
the midst of woods, and where were oaks intermingled with pines, 
and built a strong corral. Meantime I kept out scouts on every side 
and horses were kept ready saddled. In the afternoon Indians were 
reported advancing through the timber; and taking with me Carson, 
Sagundai, Swonok, Stepp, and Archambeau, I rode out to see what 
they were intending. Sacramento knew how to jump and liked it. 
Going through the wood at hand-gallop we came upon an oak tree 
which had been blown down; its summit covered quite a space, and 
being crowded by the others so that I was brought squarely in front 
of it, I let Sacramento go and he cleared the whole green mass in a 
beautiful leap. Looking back, Carson called out, "Captain, that 
horse will break your neck some day." It never happened to Sacra- 
mento to hurt his rider, but afterward, on the Salinas plain, he 


brought out from fight and back to his camp his rider who had been 
shot dead in the saddle. 

In the heart of the wood we came suddenly upon an Indian scout. 
He was drawing his arrow to the head as we came upon him, and 
Carson attempted to fire, but his rifle snapped, and as he swerved 
away the Indian was about to let his arrow go into him; I fired, and 
in my haste to save Carson, failed to kill the Indian, but Sacramento, 
as I have said, was not afraid of anything, and I jumped him di- 
rectly upon the Indian and threw him to the ground. His arrow 
went wild. Sagundai was right behind me, and as I passed over the 
Indian he threw himself from his horse and killed him with a blow 
on the head from his war-club. It was the work of a moment, but it 
was a narrow chance for Carson. The poisoned arrow would have 
gone through his body. 

Giving Sacramento into the care of Jacob, I went into the lodge 
and laid down on my blankets to rest from the excitement of which 
the day had been so full. I had now kept the promise I made to my- 
self and had punished these people well for their treachery; and 
now I turned my thoughts to the work which they had delayed. I 
was lost in conjectures over this new field when Gillespie came in, 
all roused into emotion. "By heaven, this is rough work," he ex- 
claimed. "I'll take care to let them know in Washington about it." 
"Heaven don't come in for much about here, just now," I said; 
"and as for Washington, it will be long enough before we see it 
again ; time enough to forget about this." 

He had been introduced into an unfamiliar life in joining me and 
had been surprised into continued excitements by the strange scenes 
which were going on around him. My surroundings were very much 
unlike the narrow space and placid uniformity of a man-of-war's 
deck, and to him the country seemed alive with unexpected occur- 
rences. Though himself was not, his ideas were, very much at sea. 
He was full of admiration for my men and their singular fitness for 
the life they were leading. He shared my lodge, but this night his 
excitement would not let him sleep, and we remained long awake; 
talking over the incidents of the day and speculating over what was 
to come in the events that seemed near at hand. Nor was there much 
sleeping in the camp that night, but nothing disturbed its quiet. No 
attack was made. 

The night was clear and I obtained observations here which gave 


what may be assumed for the longitude of the outlet 121° 52' 08", 
and for its latitude 42° 41' 30". To this river [Williamson] I gave 
the name of my friend, Professor Torrey, who, with all the enthusi- 
asm that goes with a true love of science, had aided me in determin- 
ing the botany of the country. 

The next day we moved late out of camp and travelled to the 
southward along the lake. I kept the ground well covered with 
scouts, knowing the daring character of the Tlamaths. We made a 
short day's march and encamped in woods and built a corral. On the 
following day we continued the march, still in the neighborhood of 
the lake, and in the evening made camp at its southeastern end, on a 
creek to which I gave the name of one of the Delawares, We-to-wah. 
Indians were seen frequently during the day. Observations placed 
the mouth of this creek in longitude 121° 41' 23", latitude 42° 21' 
23". As had become usual we made a corral to secure the safety of 
the animals. This was our last camp on the lake. Here I turned 
away from our comrades whom I had left among the pines. But they 
were not neglected. When the Tlamaths tell the story of the night 
attack where they were killed, there will be no boasting. They will 
have to tell also of the death of their chief and of our swift retalia- 
tion; and how the people at the fishery had to mourn for the loss of 
their men and the destruction of their village. It will be a story for 
them to hand down while there are any Tlamaths on their lake."^ 

The pines in these forests were mostly full-grown trees, and for 
many a year our log forts around the lake will endure, and other 
travellers may find refuge in them, or wonder, in the present quiet, 
what had once broken the silence of the forest. Making open spots 
in the woods where the sunshine can rest longest, the trees that en- 
circle them will be fuller-headed and grass and flowers will be more 
luxuriant in the protection of their enclosure, so that they may long 
remain marked places. 

The next day brought no unusual incident. On the day following 
I was travelling along a well-worn trail when I came upon a fresh 
scalp on an arrow which had been stuck up in the path. Maxwell 
and Archambeau were ahead, and in the evening they reported that 
riding along the trail they met an Indian who, on seeing them, laid 
down a bunch of young crows which he had in his hand, and forth- 
with and without parley let fly an arrow at Maxwell, who was fore- 
most. He threw himself from his horse just in time to escape the 
arrow, which passed over the seat of his saddle, and, after a brief in- 


terchange of rifle-balls and arrows, the Indian was killed and his 
scalp put up in the trail to tell the story. We were getting roughened 
into Indian customs. 

Our route was now among the hills over ground where we had 
already just travelled in going north and bordering the valley of the 
upper Sacramento, which, as I have said, was known to trappers 
under the name of Pitt River, The spring now gave its attraction 
and freshness to the whole region. The rolling surface of the hills 
was green up to the timbered ridges of the Cascade range which we 
were skirting along; but, above, the unconquerable peaks still were 
clothed with snow, and glittered cool in their solitary heights. 

Chapter XIV. 

On one of these days, being hurried forward by rifle-shots ahead, 
we found Owens, with Stepp and Jacob, engaged with a party of In- 
dians who had attacked them with as little ceremony as the Indian 
who had taken Maxwell for a mark. One of them was left behind 
when the others took to the thicker timber. These Indians deserve 
their reputation for daring, but their bravery is imprudent and un- 
calculating. Like tigers, their first spring is the dangerous one. 

We were skirting still the wooded foot-hills of the great moun- 
tains, and, journeying along, had reached the head of a rocky, 
wooded ravine, down which a trail that we had been following led 
into a cafion. I was passing along its edge when a strong party of 
Indians suddenly issued from among the rocks and timber, and' 
commenced an attack. They were promptly driven into cover of the 
wood and down the ravine into the brush, with a number wounded. 
One brave refused to be dislodged from behind a rock in the brush 
on the side of the ravine, from which he kept up a dangerous flight 
of arrows. He had spread his arrows on the ground and held some 
in his mouth, and drove back the men out of range for some mo- 
ments, until Carson crept around to where he could get a good view 
of him and shot him through the heart. Carson gave the bow and 
arrows to Mr. Gillespie. The Indians had seemed bent on speeding 
their parting guest, but this was the last encounter we had with 

Their ambush had been well laid. They had thought we would 
certainly follow the trail into the cafion, where, between their arrows 


and the rocks which they would have hurled down upon us, we would 
have had a mauvais quart d'heure [bad time of it] and lost men as 
well as animals. But in a bad country I usually kept clear of such 
places, and in all this journey, except on the night at Denny's Creek, 
committed but one imprudence, which was in passing along the 
shore of the lake where a high, naked ridge, its face so literally 
strewed over with jagged fragments of rock as to be absolutely, in- 
accessible from below, skirted the water for a number of miles. The 
Indians could have rained arrows and rock down upon us, and we 
could neither have got at them without great loss, nor got our ani- 
mals out of the way. I breathed more freely when I was at the 
end of this pass, and felt mortified that I needed a lesson. 

We were now approaching the rougher country into which breaks 
the point of the last link of the Sierra Nevada, and at nightfall en- 
camped on its waters. We crossed the mountain upon a different 
line, nearer to the head of the lower Sacramento valley, and, de- 
scending, entered into a truly magnificent forest. It was composed 
mainly of a cypress and a lofty white cedar {Thuya gigafitea) one 
hundred and twenty to one hundred and forty feet high, common in 
the mountains of California. All were massive trees, but the cypress 
was distinguished by its uniformly great bulk.^^' None were seen so 
large as are to be found in the coast mountains near Santa Cruz, but 
there was a greater number of large trees — seven feet being a com- 
mon diameter— carrying the bulk eighty or a hundred feet without a 

At an elevation of four thousand six hundred feet the temperature 
at sunset was 48° and at sunrise 37°. Oaks already appeared among 
the pines, but did not show a leaf. In the meadow-marshes of the 
forest grass was green, but not yet abundant, and the deer were poor. 
Descending the flanks of the mountain, which fell gradually toward 
the plain, the way was through the same deep forest. At the eleva- 
tion of about three thousand feet the timber had become more open, 
the hills rolling, and many streams made pretty bottoms of rich 
grass; the black oaks in full and beautiful leaf were thickly studded 
among the open pines, which had become much smaller and fewer 
in variety, and when we halted near midday, at an elevation of two 
thousand two hundred feet, we were in one of the most pleasant 
days of early spring, cool and sunny, with a pleasant breeze, amidst 
a profusion of flowers; many trees in dark summer foliage, and 
some still in bloom. Among these the white spikes of the horse- 


chestnut, common through all the oak regions, were conspicuous. 
We had again reached summer weather, and the temperature at 
noon was 70°. The plants we had left in bloom were now generally 
in seed, and many, including the characteristic plants, perfectly ripe. 

In the afternoon we descended to the open valley of the Sacra- 
mento, one thousand feet lower, where the thermometer was 68° 
at sunset and 54° at sunrise. This was the best timbered region that 
I had seen, and was the more valuable from its position near the 
head of the valley of the lower Sacramento, and accessible from its 

On the 24th of May we reached again Lassen's, and in the evening 
I wrote to Senator Benton; a guarded letter,^' chiefly to call the at- 
tention of Mr. Buchanan to the Indians among whom I had been 
travelling, especially to the fact that they were unfriendly to us but 
friendly to the English, by whom they were supplied with arms 
from a Hudson Bay's post"^ on the Umpqua conveniently near to 
the coast. In the vague condition of affairs until the arrival of Com- 
modore Sloat, my own movements depended upon circumstances 
and of them I could say but little. 

MEMOIRS, 470-99. 

1. JCF's log fort atop one of the peaks in the Gabilan Range was probably 
not on the one now called Fremont Peak but on one two miles distant, known 
as Hill 2146. It is at the head of Steinbach Canyon and outside of Fremont 
State Park, which was created in 1934 (gudde, 114, citing Fred B. Rogers). 
After remaining on the peak three days, the pole bearing the American flag 
fell to the ground, and using this as an indication to his men that it was 
time for them to take up their scientific duties again and be on their way, 
JCF proceeded inland to the valley of the San loaquin. He rationalized that 
he had given Castro sufficient time to execute his threat of driving them out. 
"Besides," he wrote, "I kept always in mind the object of the Government to 
obtain possession of California and would not let a proceeding which was 
mostly personal put obstacles in the way" (memoirs, 460). Gen. Jose Castro 
claimed a victory (Doc. No. 21), but he made no effort to attack or folloAv 
JCF. In fact, Archibald Gillespie reported to the Secretary of the Navy that 
Castro had boasted to Henry Melius that he had not intended to attack JCF but 
had used the circumstances to suit his purposes and to insure his position in 
Mexico City (18 April 1846, ames [1], 135-40). Talbot expressed a similar 
view of the Mexican general's personal motives when he wrote his mother 
that Castro really wanted to use the incident to oust Pio Pico as governor 
(24 July 1846, DLC — Talbot Papers). For some time Larkin was unaware 
of JCF's movements and wrote the Secretary of State that it was generally 
supposed he had gone to Santa Barbara, where an American vessel had been 
sent in February by the consul with funds and provisions for the explorer 
(2 April 1846, larkin, 4:275-77). 

2. Eliab Grimes (d. 1848), a native of Massachusetts, was a well-known 


Honolulu merchant when he selected this rancho in the Sacramento Valley 
in 1842. The grant was confirmed in 1844, but Grimes preferred to spend 
most of his time in San Francisco. 

3. While JCF was examining the lower Sacramento Valley, Talbot was sent 
to San Francisco to buy supplies (Talbot to Adelaide Talbot, 24 July 1846, 
DLC — Talbot Papers; new Helvetia diary, 24 March and 9 April 1846). 

4. An old friend of John Sutter and a native of the Austrian Tyrol, Sebas- 
tian Keyser was half-owner of the William Johnson rancho on Bear River. 

5. Peter Lassen (1800-1859) was a Dane — not a German — who had learned 
blacksmithing before he arrived in Boston in 1831. He soon moved to St. 
Louis, went overland to Oregon in 1839, and later to California on the 
Lausanne. By the end of 1844 he was a naturalized Mexican and the grantee 
of this rather isolated northern rancho near Deer Creek. After JCF's visit he 
laid out the village of Benton City and tried unsuccessfully to attract im- 
migrants to the area (swartzlow). 

6. JCF had stayed at Lassen's six days, 30 March to 5 April 1846. As he will 
note later, he returned to Lassen's again on 11 April and remained until 24 
April. It was during these stays at Lassen's that he reputedly purchased 
stolen horses from the Indians, angering Sutter (Sutter to Jose Castro, 13? 
May 1846, cal. his. soc. docs., 6:82-83). Kit Carson notes that during their 
stay at Lassen's (he fails to note that there were two visits) "some Americans 
that were settled in the neighborhood came in stating that there were about 
1000 Indians in the vicinity making preparations to attack the settlements; 
requested assistance of Fremont to drive them back. He and party and some 
few Americans that lived near started for the Indian encampment. Found 
them to be in great force, as was stated. They were attacked. The number 
killed I cannot say. It was a perfect butchery. Those not killed fled in all 
directions, and we returned to Lawson's" (carson, 101). Another of JCF's 
men affirms that an attack was made on the Indians in April (Thomas S. 
Martin's dictated narrative, 1878, pp. 13-14, CU-B), and Henry L. Ford said 
that he organized one of the companies ( Rogers [1], 29:135). 

The Memoirs do not mention this Indian slaughter before the trip to 
Oregon, and Thomas E. Breckenridge remembers it as having occurred ajter 
the return from Oregon and as having been done by the settlers with the 
assistance of about half of JCF's men. They had to slip "away from camp 
quietly one by one" because JCF refused to go on a raid against the Indians, 
but he did promise aid if the settlers were attacked. Although Breckenridge 
did not participate, he learned of some of the details and much later wrote, 
"By noon the settlers were ready to march against an Indian village twelve 
miles away and consisting of about 150 bucks and about 250 squaws and 
children. They arrived at the village late in the afternoon and found the 
Indians engaged in a war dance. I think that the fact of finding the village 
engaged in a war dance made the settlers worse for the order was to ask no 
quarter and to give none. The settlers charged into the village taking the 
warriors by surprise and then commenced a scene of slaughter which is un- 
equalled in the West. . . . There was from 120 to 150 Indians killed that 
day" ("Recollections of Thomas E. Breckenridge," p. 56, MoU). That the 
Indians of northern California were restless in the spring of 1846 is exem- 
plified by their burning a house on Pierson B. Reading's Rancho Buena- 
ventura (abeloe, 485). And, curiously, an 1856 biography of JCF contains 
a picture of the charge upon the Indians at "Redding's" rancho (upham, 
facing p. 232). 


Both in the memoirs, 502-3, 516-17, and in his description of his 
California expedition, JCF takes responsibility for chastising the Indians after 
the return from Oregon but notes extreme provocation — in fact, he alleges 
protection of the settlers against impending attack. "I then descended into 
the Sacramento valley where I found the American settlers in excitement & 
alarm. I learned that General Castro had caused a general rising of the 
Indians, with the avowed object of destroying the crops & farms of the 
Americans & extirpating them from the country. The settlers came to me & 
requested my protection & assistance which I undertook to give them. Being 
joined by about 20 of them I proceeded to the head of the lower Sacramento 
valley, where four or five hundred Indians had gathered together and antic- 
ipating them in the very act of their descent on the settlements I attacked & 
defeated & entirely dispersed them" (JCF's description of his California 
expedition, 27 June [1855], KyLoF — James Guthrie Papers). 

If there was a full-scale attack by JCF's men upon the Indians of Cali- 
fornia in the spring of 1846, which is not too clear, it was made before the 
trip to Oregon. There is little corroborating evidence that JCF participated in 
a June war against the Indians. It is possible that some of his men went 
along on Sutter's and Pierson B. Reading's not too successful expedition 
against the Indians of the Mokelumne between 3 and 7 June 1846 (new 


7. Not the present Mount Linn in Tehama County but another high peak 
to the west. 

8. Mount Shasta towers 14,162 feet above sea level in northern California; 
at 15,781 feet, Mont Blanc in France is the highest mountain in the Alps. 

9. The JCF-Preuss map of 1848 shows that JCF ascended the Sacramento as 
far as a stream which he called the Nozah River, presently known as Battle 
Creek. It is south of Redding. 

10. Robert Barnwell Rhett (1800-1876), formerly Robert Barnwell Smith, 
began a legal career in his home town of Beaufort. In 1832 he was elected 
attorney general of South Carolina and in 1837 was sent to Congress, where 
he served for more than a decade. It was he who in Aug. 1848 made the 
presentation to JCF of an ornamented sword and belt — gifts from the citizens 
of Charleston to a son who had done honor to South Carolina and the nation. 

11. E. R. S. Canby was shot down on 11 April 1873 while attempting to 
arrange a truce with the Modocs, whom he had been sent to subdue. In 
1925 the Lava Beds National Monument was established in northeastern 
Siskiyou County on the boundary of Modoc County. See heyman for a 
biography of Canby and Murray for an account of the war. 

12. The first official Hudson's Bay Company trapping party to enter Alta 
California was led by Peter Skene Ogden, who trekked through the north- 
eastern corner during his 1826-27 Snake country expedition. In 1829 Alex- 
ander R. McLeod had taken a brigade as far south as present-day Stockton, 
and in 1829-30 Ogden, who had journeyed down the east face of the Sierra 
Nevada, came back through the central valley of California, taking a thou- 
sand pelts in the San Joaquin basin and exploring the Sacramento from San 
Francisco Bay to its headwaters. The year 1832 saw yet two more penetra- 
tions by the Hudson's Bay Company. Michel Laframboise took a route up 
the Rogue River to its confluence with the Applegate. Proceeding to Upper 
Klamath Lake, he then turned southward to the Pit River and from there 
into the Sacramento Valley. Near the Marysville or Sutter Buttes he was 
joined by the second expedition, under the command of John Work. The 


parties combined to forage for furs in and around San Francisco Bay, but in 
May 1833, near Fort Ross on Bodega Bay, they again separated and took 
different routes home to Fort Vancouver. In his journal Work frequently 
comments on the troublesomeness of the Indians and their theft of expedi- 
tion horses and traps. The Indian menace did not deter the Hudson's Bay 
Company from sending out an occasional land expedition to hunt furs in 
California. For journals of the early expeditions, see ogden and work; for 
a biographical sketch of Laframboise, see nunis [1]. 

13. JCF may be referring to the attack on Jedediah S. Smith and his party 
of trappers in 1828 by Indians of the Umpqua River region. Fifteen men were 
killed, but Smith and three others escaped. 

14. It was noted on p. 125, n. 12, that for some time the Hudson's Bay 
Company had been sending its fur brigades into southern Oregon and north- 
ern California. The 1834 Arrowsmith map of British North America might 
be called an Ogden map, since it represented Peter Skene Ogden's knowledge 
of the West. Chief factor John McLoughlin at Fort Vancouver had relayed 
Ogden's sketches to company offices in England, which in turn had sent them 
to the heirs of Aaron Arrowsmith. The 1838 map of Capt. Washington Hood 
was drawn to illustrate the report of Senator Lewis F. Linn on a bill to 
authorize the U.S. president to occupy the Oregon territory. The map was 
said to have been prepared "with much care and labor" under the direction 
of J. J. Abert, the chief of the Bureau of Topographical Engineers. In reality 
it was almost an exact copy of the 1834 Arrowsmith map. JCF undoubtedly 
had access to the Hood map as well as to information on Oregon and 
California which the Charles Wilkes expedition had acquired in 1841. In 
fact, JCF's 1843-44 survey had made several contributions to the Wilkes 
maps of Oregon and California, which were not published until 1844 and 
1845. On JCF's own 1845 map the Willamette and upper Sacramento valleys 
and the coastal regions of Oregon and California are blank. The Wilkes 
map of Oregon Territory was good for the main Oregon region and indicates 
that Wilkes had access to Jedediah Smith's 1831 map of the West, and per- 
haps even to one that Smith may have drawn while wintering at Fort 
Vancouver between Dec. 1828 and March 1829. JCF is correct in maintaining, 
however, that the region had never been thoroughly explored or mapped. For 
a discussion of the various maps mentioned here, see c. i. wheat, 2:119-39, 
146-48, 177-78. 

15. According to his wife, Archibald H. Gillespie (1813-73), a Marine and 
former officer on the Bra?idywine, was selected as confidential agent because 
he had an excellent command of Spanish. After interviews with President 
Polk and Secretaries of the Navy and State, Gillespie left New York in 
November, crossed Mexico in civilian garb, and journeyed from Mazatlan 
to Monterey via Honolulu in the sloop of war Cyane. On 17 April he was 
in Monterey harbor and in contact with the American consul, Thomas Oliver 
Larkin, and on the next day delivered to him the Secretary of State's 17 
Oct. 1845 dispatch. He had committed it to memory and destroyed it before 
reaching Vera Cruz, but he now wrote it out again. By this dispatch Larkin 
was appointed a "Confidential Agent in California" and was instructed to 
"exert the greatest vigilance in discovering and defeating any attempts which 
may be made by Foreign Government to acquire a control" over California 
(James Buchanan to Larkin, 17 Oct. 1845, larkin, 4:44-47). Buchanan wrote 
that if the Californians wished to unite "their destiny" with the United 
States, "they would be received as brethren." "Their true policy, for the 


present, in regard to this question, is to let events take their course," unless 
an attempt should be made to transfer them to Great Britain or France. 
Receipt in Washington of disturbing news of British activities in the North- 
w^est and Mexico was allegedly responsible for Gillespie's mission and the 
new duties for Larkin. From Monterey, Gillespie went on to Yerba Buena 
(24 April) and was at Sutter's Fort on 28 April seeking JCF. For a biog- 
raphy of Gillespie, see marti. 

16. The letters which Gillespie had for JCF were family letters. Although 
Benton's letter (see JCF's reference to it in Doc. No. 28) seems to have led 
him to expect an important communique from Buchanan, there was only a 
message from the Secretary of State introducing Gillespie, which read: 

Washington, November 3, 1845 
Mv Dear Sir: The bearer hereof, Mr. Archibald H. Gillespie, is about to 
visit the northwest coast of America on business, and has requested me to give 
him a letter of introduction to vou. This I do with pleasure, because he is a 
gentleman of worth and respectability, and is worthy of your regard. I do 
not deem it probable that he will fall in with you; but, if he should, allow me 
to bespeak for him vour friendly attention. He will be able to communicate to 
you information on the health of Mrs. Fremont and Col. Benton and his 
family. From your friend, very respectfully, 

James Buchanan 

The letter was printed in the National Intelligencer, 12 April 1848, as a 
part of Benton's speech on the California Claims, delivered in the Senate on 
10 April 1848. 

17. There is a misplaced comma separating Basil and Lajeunesse. The 
name was Basil Lajeunesse. Stepp was not with JCF but with Gillespie's 
small party of six, which was trying to overtake JCF. 

18. Gillespie arrived at Lassen's on 1 May to find that JCF had left eight 
days earHer. The five men who accompanied him in search of the explorer 
were Lassen, Stepp, Neal, Sigler, and Gillespie's Negro servant Ben Harrison 
(Gillespie to Larkin, 24 May 1846, larkin, 4:393-94). 

19. Navy Department dispatches dated 24 June and 17 Oct. 1845 had in- 
structed Sloat to seize California in the event of actual hostilities between the 
United States and Mexico (DNA-45, Confidential LS). In letters of 19 Nov. 
1845 and 17 March 1846 Sloat acknowledged receipt of the 24 June instruc- 
tions and a copy of the 17 Oct. dispatch to Larkin, the original of which Stock- 
ton was carrying out on the Congress. Since Gillespie felt it necessary to 
memorize and destroy his copy of the Larkin dispatch before journeying 
across Mexico, it is doubtful that he retained any written message when he 
reached Sloat at Mazatlan in February, but he may have written it out from 
memory for Sloat as he did later for Larkin. Sloat wrote Bancroft, "Lieut. 
Gillespie reached here some days since and was immediately sent forward to 
his destination [Monterey via Oahu] agreeable to the verbal orders delivered 
me from his Excellency the President of the U. States and the Honl. Secre- 
tary of the Navy." He also added, "The Squadron is in fine order and ready 
for any service" (25 Feb. 1846, DNA-45, LR, Commanding Officers of 
Squadrons, Pacific, 1846-47). 

20. For a discussion of Benton's enigmatic letter and JCF's instructions or 
lack of instructions from the government, see the introduction, pp. xxviii-xxxii. 

21. Thirty years earlier in the description of his California expedition, 


JCF stated even more succinctly his comprehension of the communications 
brought by Gillespie. See the introduction, p. xxxi. But see also his 25 July 
1846 letter to Benton (Doc. No. 52), in which he implies that his return to 
the Sacramento Valley was a voluntary one, i.e., that he was not being 
recalled by Gillespie, and that his participation in the Bear Flag movement 
was of his own responsibility. 

22. Not true. Hostilities had actually begun on the Texas-Mexico border, 
but Gillespie brought only the news that war seemed imminent. 

23. Stern believes the attack on the JCF party was made by the Klamath 
Indians of the luhlalonkini division rather than the Hot Creek Modocs, to 
whom Lindsay Applegate, the first agent on the Klamath Reservation, had 
assigned responsibility for the deed (stern, 235-37). 

24. These were perhaps not Basil Lajeunesse's shoes, if stern, 236-37, is 
correct in believing that JCF's reprisal fell not upon his attackers but upon 
Klamaths of the Eukskni division. 

25. The swiftness of JCF's reprisal did not break the spirit of the Klamaths. 
Rather, it left a legacy of bitterness and was undoubtedly a factor in drawing 
them into the hostile camp in the Molalla War, soon to follow. 

26. Present-day botanists are unable to identify this cypress. 

27. See Doc. No. 28. 

28. Fort Umpqua, a Hudson's Bay Company post in Douglas County, Ore. 

23. Charles William Fliigge to Fremont 

Monterey March 26th 1846 
J C Fremont Esqre 
U S Army 

Returned on this coast from the Sandwich Islands, I have been in- 
formed of your visit to CaUfornia which gives me an opportunity of 
writing to you, and of reminding you of your business transaction 
with me when last we saw each other on the Sacremento. I at that 
time had no idea that I in vain should have to wait two years, with- 
out seeing fulfilled a promise given, and made by you to me, that is: 
to remit the amount of $1291.93 cts in specie, immeadiately to this 
coast, as amount of your draft, for that amount on Colonel J. J. 
Albert [Abert] Cheif of the Topografical at Washington City D.C. 
The offer was made by you spontaniously at the time when you 
thought it to be derogatory to the Credit of the U.S. and when you 
felt much offended at my chargeing a discount on Bills drawn by 
you on the Government. Even to my letters adressed to you, and 
Colonel J. J. Albert which I sent by way of Mazatlan and Mexico, I 


have not received the shortest answer. Under these circumstances I 
have seen proper to consult T. O. Larkin Esqr U.S. Consul at this 
place, and have requested the favour of his acting for me in this 
affair. According to this Gentlemans views on the subject I am en- 
titled to add interest of 1 per cent a month from the time the money 
might have been received here and add to the discount usual on this 
Coast, in case I should be obliged to wait longer for the money. In 
such case I should request the favour of your deliveri'ng into the 
hands of the said T. O. Larkin Esq, a regular set of Bills of exchange 
in my favour lawfully drawn, and for such sum as would be pro- 
duced by adding to the princapal a/c $1291.93 cts. The interest at 
1 per cent per month, and the discount on your draft for $237.25 I 
have been obliged to loose $30. A long serious illness which brought 
me near the grave, and later compelled me to seek medical aid in 
another part of the world, has made me feel the want of this money 
greatly, but now live in hopes you will bring the matter to a final 
close. It would be very difficult to dispose of your drafts, if not 
drawn in the above mentioned manner, and I therefore request the 
favour of your according to my wish. I Remain Sir With much re- 
spect Your Obedient Servent, 

(Signed) C. W, Flugge 

[Cover bears note:] The original sent this day to Capt. Fremont. 
June 1st 1846. 

Printed in larkin, 4:265-66. A German emigrant to California in 1841, 
Charles William Fliigge (d. 1852) had a rancho on the Feather River and a 
store in Los Angeles. He had furnished supplies to JCF on his visit to 
California in the spring of 1844. JCF had given him a voucher for $237.25 
(see Vol. 1, Doc. No. 95, item 109), but the voucher for the "business trans- 
action" involving $1,291.93 has not been found, although it was drawn on the 
chief of the Topographical Bureau and therefore must have been a legitimate 
expedition expenditure. 

24. Fremont to Jessie B. Fremont 

Sacramento River, (lat. 40°) 
April 1, 1846 

It is hard to say when I shall see you, but about the middle of the 
next month, at latest, I will start for home. The Spaniards were 


somewhat rude and inhospitable below, and ordered us out of the 
country, after having given me permission to winter there. My sense 
of duty did not permit me to fight them, but we retired slowly and 
growlingly before a force of three or four hundred men, and three 
pieces of artillery. Without a shadow of a cause, the governor sud- 
denly raised the whole country against me, issuing a false and scan- 
dalous proclamation. Of course I did not dare to compromise the 
United States, against which appearances would have been strong; 
but, though it was in my power to increase my party by many 
Americans,^ I refrained from committing a solitary act of hostility 
or impropriety. For my own part, I have become disgusted with 
everything belonging to the Mexicans. Our government will not 
require me to return by the southern route against the will of this 
government; I shall therefore return by the heads of the Missouri, 
going through a pass of which your father knows, and be at West- 
port about 1st September. I go in about two weeks through from the 
Tlamath lake to the Walamath valley, to make a reconnaissance of 
the pass which I mentioned to you before. Say many kind things for 
me to all the family. Glad will I be when finally we turn our faces 

Printed in Niles' National Register, 71 (21 Nov. 1846) :190. It is obviously 
an extract. An even shorter extract was given to President Polk in Benton's 
letter of 9 Nov. 1846, which was printed in the National Intelligencer, 11 
Nov. 1846. The letter was written from Lassen's, sixty miles above New 
Helvetia. On the previous day, 31 March, JCF had written Larkin applying 
for funds; Larkin forwarded them in gold by a courier who seems to have 
been Samuel Neal (new Helvetia diary, 4 and 14 April 1846). While the 
letter has not been found, it apparently gave no news about the explorer's 
journey from the Monterey vicinity. However, Larkin understood from the 
courier that JCF had not seen a single Californian during his journey from 
the Gabilan (Larkin to Buchanan, 17 April 1846, larkin, 4:288-90). 

1. Larkin wrote the Secretary of State that JCF "received verbal appUca- 
tions from English and Americans to join his party and could have mustered 
as many men as the natives. He was careful not to do so, and although he 
discharged five or six of his men, he took no others in their place" (2 April 
1846, LARKIN, 4:275-77). 


25. Fremont to James Clyman 

[April? 1846] 
To James Clyman, Esq. 
at Yount's Mills, California 
Dear Sir: 

Your favor of the 21st ultimo^ has been received through the kind- 
ness of Mr. Flint, some time since, but as the subject matter is one of 
the gravest importance I have taken time to consider before ventur- 
ing upon a definite reply. I am placed in a peculiar position. Having 
carried out to the best of my ability, my instructions to explore the 
far west, I see myself on the eve of my departure for home, con- 
fronted by the most perplexing complications. I have received infor- 
mation to the effect that a declaration of war between our Govern- 
ment and Mexico is probable,^ but so far this news has not been 
confirmed. The California authorities object to my presence here and 
threaten to overwhelm me. If peace is preserved I have no right or 
business here ; if war ensues I shall be out numbered ten to one and 
be compelled to make good my retreat pressed by a pursuing enemy. 
It seems that the only way open to me is to make my way back 
eastward, and as a military man you must perceive at once that an 
increase of my command would only encumber and not assist my 
retreat through a region where wild game is the only thing procur- 
able in the way of food. Under these circumstances I must make my 
way back alone and gratefully decline your offer of a company of 
hardy warriors And remain Yours Respectfully, 

John C. Fremont 

Camp on Feather River [ ?] 
December 19th 1845. [!]' 

Printed in clyman, 193, from Ivan Petroff's "Abstract of Clyman's Note- 
Book," p. 26 (CU-B). James Clyman (1792-1881), born in the foothills of 
the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, had a varied and adventurous career 
as surveyor, Rocky Mountain trapper, and pioneer in Illinois and Wisconsin. 
He emigrated to Oregon in 1844 and the next year from Oregon to California 
as a leader of the McMahon-Clyman party. At the time of the writing of this 
letter, Clyman was preparing to return east again. He would come back to 
California in 1848 as guide to a company of emigrants, marry in 1849, and 
settle down to farm life. In 1846 Clyman's camp was eighteen miles from the 

flour and saw mills which George C. Yount had built on his princely grant 
in the heart of the Napa Valley near present-day Yountsville. 

1. Charles Camp, the editor of Clyman's reminiscences and diaries, thinks 
Clyman wrote his letter to JCF on 21 Jan. 1846. He had seen Isaac Flint on 
that day, and JCF mentions that Flint had brought the letter to him. It is 
most likely that JCF wrote in April, his "21st ultimo" meaning 21 March, the 
date on which Clyman wrote in his diary of JCF's troubles at the Mission 
San Juan, although JCF could not have sent a letter from Lassen's to Yount's 
Mills by 31 March — the date on which Clyman was there — unless Clyman 
had been expected to linger longer at his camp in the Napa Valley. Clyman's 
offer seems to have been a genuine one to return to the States with JCF and 
not a scheme for a movement against the Californians (clyman, 192-94, 
198-203). Isaac F. Flint, from Wisconsin, had come to California in 1845. 
In the PIONEER REGISTER Bancroft speculates that he returned east with Cly- 
man in the spring of 1846, but Camp does not identify him as a member of 
the eastbound party (clyman, 235). 

2. It is difficult to explain this statement of JCF's, for Gillespie did not 
reach him in Oregon until 9 May. It may be that rumors of war had been 
gleaned from newspapers sent by Larkin (see Doc. Nos. 15 and 30, 8 March 
and 31 May 1846). If these newspapers did not reach him at San Juan before 
10 March, perhaps he saw them a few days later at New Helvetia. 

3. The date appearing on Ivan PetrofT's copy of JCF's letter to Clyman is 
obviously wrong; possibly even the place is incorrect, although probably not. 
JCF probably wrote the letter from his camp at Lassen's either between 30 
March and 5 April or between 11 and 24 April, the dates of his two visits to 
Lassen's. Although addressed to Clyman at Yount's Mills, the letter may 
actually have been carried to Clyman's camp on Bear River, a small stream 
running into Feather River. Clyman was there from 16 to 23 April, complet- 
ing his preparations for the homeward journey and waiting for additions to 
his party. He may also have waited for JCF's answer there. On 23 April he 
began ascending the mountains on his way east; on 24 April JCF left 
Lassen's for Oregon. 

26. Fremont to William A. LeidesdorfT 

Lassen's farm, Sacramento river; 

April 23. 1846 
Dear Sir, 

Enclosed you find a draft for the amount of your bill and expendi- 
tures made in my favor. 1 shall start for the States in a few days and 
therefore will not have the satisfaction of a reply to my late letters to 
you,^ as I am informed that you have left for Monterey. 

I trust that on your return, or thereabouts, you will write me a line 


at Washington, and give me the current news. Repeating my thanks 
for your kindness, which I hope for an occasion to reciprocate, I am, 
Very truly yours, 

J. C. Fremont 

ALS, RC (CU-B). 

1. JCF left for Oregon the next day, his letters to Leidesdorff have not been 


The Bear Flag Revolt 
and the Conquest of California 

27. Fremont to Thomas Oliver Larkin 

Sacramento river; May 24, 1846 
My dear Sir 

Not being able to detain a present opportunity to write to you, I 
will beg you only to forward the enclosed through some of our 
friends in Mazatlan, so that it may not be interrupted. Please see to 
this for me. I will write you soon more at length and acknowledge 
all favors. Yours truly, 

J. C. Fremont 

Thorn. O Larkin Esq 

Consul for the United States at Monterey 

Printed in larkin, 4:390. The enclosure was JCF's letter to Benton, 24 May 
1846, Doc. No. 28. 

28. Fremont to Thomas H. Benton 

Sacramento River, (Lat. 40°) 
May 24, 1846 
My Dear Sir : 

Most unexpectedly, and in a remote region of the northern moun- 
tains, I had the great pleasure to receive your letters. An express 
from Mr. Gillespie overtook me, the man being Neal, whom you 


will remember as having been left by me here in the last expedition. 
No other man here would have had the courage and resolution to 
follow us. I had the good fortune to save the lives of Mr. Gillespie 
and party from the Indians, In a charge at night by the Tlamath 
Indians I lost three men killed and had one dangerously wounded, 
being then with a detached party of fourteen men. You will regret 
to hear that among the killed was my old companion, Basil Lajeu- 
nesse. We afterwards fought the nation from one extremity to the 
other, and have ever since been fighting, until our entrance into the 
Lower Sacramento valley. I have but a faint hope that this note will 
reach you before I do; but the object for which I write is a pressing 
one and therefore I make the experiment. 

The Tlamath lake on our last map I find to be only an expansion 
of the river above, which passes by an outlet through a small range 
of mountains into a large body of water to the southward. This is 
the true Tlamath lake, and the heart of the Tlamath nation. It is on 
the east side of a range of mountains, (the Cascade.) Directly west, 
and comparatively near at hand, is the Umpqua river. Here the 
British have a post. Why do they keep it there? The trade in fur 
will not justify it. If there is to be any war with England, it is of 
great importance that they should instantly be driven from this and 
similar posts before they furnish the Indians with fire arms, and 
engage them in their service. These Indians are considered by the 
Willamette missionaries (who have been able to have only a slight 
knowledge of those in the north) as the most savage and warlike 
Indians on the continent. So said Mr. Lee. This post maintains an 
intercourse with the Tlamaths and other mountain Indians, and fur- 
nishes them with the tomahawks and iron arrow-heads, with which 
they fought us. They are the bravest Indians we have ever seen; our 
people (my camp, Carson, &c.) consider them far beyond the Black- 
feet, who are by no means so daring. You know that the Indians 
along the line of the Columbia are well supplied with fire arms, 
ammunition, and horses — hardly a man having less than forty or 
fifty of the latter; that they are brave, friendly to the British, and 
unfriendly to us. These things may be worthy of Mr. Buchanan's 
attention. Your letter led me to expect some communication from 
him, but I received nothing. I shall now proceed directly home- 
wards, by the Colorado, but cannot arrive at the frontier until late 
in September.^ I saw a notice of your illness in the papers, and your 
letter relieved me of much anxiety. I trust that I will be able to force 


my way through this rough voyage, and find all well on the fron- 
tier. We certainly commenced our voyage when some malicious and 
inauspicious star was in the ascendant, for we find enemies and diffi- 
culty everywhere. I detain Mr. Gillespie's courier to write only to 
yourself; believing, too, that when this reaches you I shall be near 
at hand. The letters from home have taken off half the length of the 
journey, and I have courage now for the rest. Very truly and repect- 


J. C. Fremont 

Printed in National Intelligencer, 11 Nov. 1846. This letter also appeared 
in Niles' National Register, 71 (21 Nov. 1846): 190-91, and memoirs, 499. 
Undoubtedly portions were deleted before its contents were made public. 

1. JCF's actions indicate that he had no intention of proceeding "directly 
homewards." Perhaps the statement was included to mislead the Californians 
should the letter fall into their hands. 

29. Fremont to Archibald H. Gillespie 

Lassen's Ranch, Rio del Sacramento 

May 25th 1846 

There is required for the Support of the Exploring party under 
my command, at present almost entirely destitute, the following 
amount of Supplies with which I respectfully request that I may be 
furnished from the public Stores. 

The unfriendly disposition of this Government in the present 
doubtful position of affairs has made it very difficult for me to ob- 
tain provisions, in any case only to be had at very exorbitant prices; 
and to obtain them from our Squadron would materially aid the 
surveys with which I am charged and very much expedite my re- 
turn to the States. 

Lead (American rifle) 300 lbs. 

Powder 1 Keg 

Purcussion Caps 8000 

Russia Duck 250 yds. 

Flour 5 bbls. 

Sugar 600 lbs. 


CofTee — Tea 



Medicines (common cases, emetics, purges, fever & 

ague &c) 






300 lbs. 

^ Inch Rope for tent 

30 fathoms 

Iron for horse shoes 

Very Respectfully Sir Your Obdt. Servant, 

J. C. Fremont 
Bt. Capt. U. S. Topi. Engineers 
Lt. Archibald Gillespie 
U. S. Marine Corps, Sacramento River 

LS, RC (DNA-45, Area 9 File, Pacific). Endorsed in John B. Montgomery's 
hand with the note "Transfered to me with letter of Lieut. Gillespie of June 
9, 46." Earlier Gillespie had written Larkin that he was to go to Yerba Buena 
to obtain the supplies for JCF's camp "& by so doing prevent any further 
trouble," but he cautioned the consul not to say anything about his mission 
(Gillespie to Larkin. "At Peter Lassen's," 24 May 1846. larkin, 4:393-94). 
On 1 June Commander Montgomery had received through Larkin a com- 
munication from Lieutenant Gillespie detailing the attack upon the JCF party 
by the Indians, and the Portsmouth had thereupon moved to the Bay of San 
Francisco (duvall, 11-13). By 7 June Gillespie was at Yerba Buena, his late 
arrival having been occasioned by a call at Dr. John Marsh's, where he landed 
some thirteen Indians who had been on a visit to Sutter's Fort. 

30. Thomas Oliver Larkin to Fremont 

Consulate of the United States of America 
Monterey California, May 31st, 1846 
Captain J. C. Fremont 

Your letter of a few lines I have just received, also one for Col. 
Benton.^ I was very happy to hear from you. I did expect to have a 
long letter from you a month back and supposed it must have mis- 
carried. I have never been able to tell whether you received any 
Newspapers while you were at Sn. John's, or package of letters by 


Mr. Neale. Did you receive a duplicate of the letter the Californian 
gave you when entrenched near the Sn John's Mission, also a copy 
of my letter to this Alcalde. Mr. Step gave them to Castro, who told 
me he forwarded them to you. "Quien sabe." By two conveyances I 
forwarded to Hon. James Buchanan all my correspondence respect- 
ing your afTairs near Sn. John's. Your letter to me was badly trans- 
lated by saying, you would give no quarter, in place of asking none. 
The same day I had a new one made and sent to the Governor and 
General. For fear the latter should by mistake, send the wrong one, 
I sent one with Mr. Hartnells certificate of the mistake, to our Min- 
ister in Mexico. As he is not there. Consul [John] Black should have 
it." With it went my request to publish it in Mexico, if the wrong 
one was made public. Your Californian business shall not suffer if I 
can prevent it. 

I have been keeping some N. O. & N. York papers for Come. 
Stockton, but cannot resist the opportunity of sending them to you. 
In one you will find a pretty Bee story for your published Books of 
Travels. In another paper you will read of a visit paid by some 
Indians with a long name to Col. Benton. Had a talk with Mrs. 
Fremont, and tried to make acquaintance with your child, but the 
litde one declined an introduction to his [her] Father's Mountain 
Friends. One of the papers contained a long story of a Governor, who 
it appeared married a Miss Frances, one of Col Benton's Kinsfolks, 
which caused some trial, where Mrs. Freemont and two sisters at- 
tended Court as witnesses.^ All the Herald's and other papers have 
something to say about California, half of them relative to the gal- 
lant Capt. Fremont and Lady. I really think when I see Washington, 
I shall become acquainted with one I hear so much of. 

I thank you for your former kind offer of services when you may 
arrive at Washington, yet know not how I can claim them at pres- 
ent. I have neither demands nor favour to ask of our Government, 
nor odds, to use a Western expression. What time may require, time 
must bring to light. You are aware that great changes are about 
to take place in a country we both are acquainted with. To aid this, 
I am giving up business, holding myself in readiness for the times to 
come and the results, therefore drawing myself into the political 
vortex. This in time may bring my name too prominent forward, 
that I may be assailed by others at home for their own purposes. 
Should this ever happen, you may render me service. I have a rela- 
tion in Washington, Mr. E. L. Childs, P. O. Department, who writes 


me in January, that he ordered one of your Books from Boston to be 
sent to me, but could not obtain it. I presume you have it. If so, 
please let me have it, sending it to W. A. Leidesdorflf. Your Mes- 
senger arrived late tonight. I have many letters to write, and am 
tired. By my letter to Mr. Gillespie wrote this morning, you have the 
news of the day."* If I had time I would enclose you a letter of intro- 
duction to my Friend and Correspondent, Mr. Childs, and should 
like to have you call and see him. Although you did not mention it, 
I suppose you, Mr. Talbot and others of your company, received the 
letters, and yourself the public documents I forwarded by Mr. Gilles- 
pie. I received Mr. Talbot's receipt for the 500$ I sent by Mr. Neale. 

With this I send to you a letter I have had some time in my hands 
from Charles W. Flugge.^ He went to Captain Sutter's to meet you, 
says you ought to have sent him out his money. Etc. He has vexed 
me twice on the subject. I always told him you can make your part 
of the affair correct, and I only have one side of it from him. If the 
story is as Mr. Flugge makes it and the money is still due him, and 
should you approve of it, you can send to me by carefull conveyance, 
a sett of drafts in his name for the amount due him, and he shall re- 
ceive them from me. Respecting the interest due him from the time it 
could have reached here via Cape Horn, and the discount on a draft, 
you will decide for yourself. Of this I know nothing. Respecting his 
small draft he sold, he lost nothing, as the owners of drafts in Cali- 
fornia, know they are not in Cash, worth their face. Should the dis- 
count suit me and you send Mr. Flugge a draft, perhaps I may send 
him, to the Pueblo de los Angeles, the cash for it. 

Wishing you a speedy, safe, and pleasant journey to our Capital, 
and that from there, I may here from you, I am Sir, your most 

(Signed) Thomas O. Larkin 

Printed in larkin, 4:409-11. 

1. See Fremont to Larkin, 24 May 1846, and Fremont to Benton, 24 May 
1846, Doc. Nos. 27 and 28. JCF had sent the letters by Samuel Neal, who 
was serving as Gillespie's courier. Neal made excellent time from Lassen's 
rancho to Monterey. The new Helvetia diary recorded his arrival at Sutter's 
Fort on 25 May and his immediate departure. High water forced him to 
return to the fort, but on 27 May he started again for Monterey by way of 
Sonoma and reached Larkin on 31 May. 

2. Wilson Shannon, the last American minister to Mexico before the 


break in relations which preceded the Mexican War, had asked for his pass- 
port on 8 May 1845. 

3. Larkin is referring to the marital problems of Sally McDowell, a niece 
of Thomas H. Benton, who in June 1841 had married Francis Thomas 
(1799-1876), a man twenty years her senior. At the time he was a U.S. 
congressman from Maryland, but within a few months he was elected gov- 
ernor of that state. In 1845 Thomas publicly charged his wife with infidelities, 
and as a result a libel suit was filed in Washington (U.S. v. Thomas) in 
which Benton acted as the family's manager and arranged for counsel to 
assist the public prosecutor. A public meeting was held in Lexington, Va., to 
testify to the purity of Mrs. Thomas. Thomas filed for divorce in Maryland, 
and Sally filed a counter suit in Richmond. Early in 1846 the divorce was 
granted, and later Sally married a Presbyterian minister and Thomas rehabil- 
itated himself from his "paranoia" (chambers, 216, 254, 301-3). 

4. This letter to CTillespie, 1 June 1846 (really 31 May 1846), must have 
been written several hours before the arrival of Neal (larkin, 4:407-8). 

5. See Flugge to Fremont, 26 March 1846, Doc. No. 23. 

31. John B. Montgomery to Fremont 

U. S. Ship Portsmouth 
Bay of St. Francisco June 3d 1846 

On the 31st. ulto. the day previous to my sailing from Monterey, 
a courier from Lieut. Gillespie to the U. States Consul arrived, bring- 
ing the only definite intehgence of your movement & position since 
my arrival at that port on the 22d. of April last. The instructions un- 
der which I am now serving, and which may detain me until late in 
the fall, or longer upon this coast, having relation specifically to the 
object of affording protection to the Persons & Property of Citizens 
of the U. States and of maintaining a watchful care over the general 
interests of our country, without reference in any manner to the 
enterprise in which you are so actively engaged; the nature and 
subject of which I am ignorant, except so far as I may have been 
rightly informed by paragraphs casually met with in public prints. 
1 beg leave however (availing myself of the return Messenger) to 
assure you Sir, of the interest I feel in the successful prosecution and 
issue of the Public interests committed to your direction, And without 
desiring information further than you may deem necessary, to en- 
able me to aid & facilitate your operations, to express my sincere 


John Berrien Montgomery. From a portrait in the possession of 
Montgomery's great-grandson, John M. Mahon. 


desire & readiness to serve you in any manner consistent with other 

Permit me to say Sir, that if you should find it convenient to visit 
the U. S. Ship Portsmouth during her stay in this port, that I with 
the officers of the Ship will be most happy to see you. 

I shall remain here probably three weeks unless unforseen cir- 
cumstances requiring an earlier movement and my present intention 
is to return to Monterey. I am Sir, Very Respectfully Your obt. 

Jno. B. Montgomery 


U. S. N. 


Capt. J. C. Fremont 

Upper California 

Lbk (DNA-45, no. 22, Officers' Letters, Letterbooks of J. B. Montgomery), 
[ohn Berrien Montgomery (1794-1873), scion of a naval family, was in com- 
mand of the Portsmouth from 10 Nov. 1844 to 6 May 1848. He retired as a 
captain in 1861, but he served throughout the Civil War as commodore on 
shore duty and was promoted to rear admiral in 1866. The best biography of 
this dedicated naval officer, who evidenced much diplomatic ability, is 
ROGERS [2]. In the letter which Neal had carried to Larkin from Lassen's 
ranch. Gillespie had written, "I send this messenger to get such news as you 
have & to give us some information in relation to the vessels of war — where 
they are & whether the Congress has arrived. I enclose a note from [for] the 
Commodore, which please lock up, if he should have sailed" (Gillespie to 
Larkin, 24 May 1846, larkin, 4:393-94). The editors are unable to determine 
which "Commodore" Gillespie was referring to — Stockton of the Congress, 
the vessel mentioned in the letter; John D. Sloat; or John B. Montgomery 
(actually a commander) of the Portsmouth? Already noted is the fact that 
before leaving San Francisco for Sutter's Fort in April, Gillespie received 
word from Larkin by a fast rider that the Portsmouth had arrived at 
Monterey on 22 April and that "Captain Montgomery is of the opinion that 
Commodore Sloat may by the next Mail (six or eight days) have a declara- 
tion on the part of the United States against Mexico in which case we shall 
see him in a few days to take the Country" (Larkin to Gillespie, 23 April 
1846, and Gillespie to Larkin. Verba Buena, 25 April 1846, larkin, 4:340-41, 
346-47). If the JCF-Ciillespie note had been intended for Stockton or Sloat, 
Larkin gave it to Montgomery, and it accounts for his sailing to San Fran- 
cisco harbor on 1 June and anchoring at Sausalito, where the Portsmouth 
would have land communications with Sonoma. 

1. Two phrases in this letter of Montgomery to JCF are striking and 
immediately bring questions to mind. In what enterprise is JCF now en- 
gaged? What public interests are committed to his direction? Why is 
Montgomery so ready to serve — and to serve apparently on instructions from 


JCF? In spite of his declarations to Benton (Doc. No. 28), JCF seems not to 
be planning to go home immediately. 

2. The courier Samuel Neal, who had been on board during the passage 
of the Portsmouth from Monterey to Sausalito, left the ship on 3 June to 
carry Montgomery's letter to JCF (duvall, 12). 

32. John B. Montgomery to Fremont 

U. S. Ship Portsmouth 
Bay of St. Francisco June 10th 1846 

Since writing you by "Neil" on the 3rd. Inst. I have been informed 
by Lieut. Gillespie of your present position and circumstances; and 
made acquainted with your design, soon to proceed South with your 
party as far as Santa Barbara; before striking across the country for 
the U, States. I am also informed by Lt. Gillespie of your having ex- 
pressed to him a desire for the presence of a vessel of war at St. 
Barbara, during the period of your sojourn in the vicinity of that 
port. Now Sir, I am happy to say, that I feel myself at liberty to 
visit any or all the Ports upon this coast, should the Public interests 
require it, and and if on receipt of this you shall still think the 
presence of a Ship of War at Santa Barbara may prove serviceable 
to you in carrying out the views of our Government, and will do me 
the favor by the return boat to communicate your wishes, with infor- 
mation as to the time you will probably reach that part of the coast; 
I will not fail (Providence permitting) to meet you there with the 

I feel gratified Sir, in having it in my power to forward you by Lt. 
Hunter, the amount of funds asked for in your name by Lieut. Gil- 
lespie; with most of the articles of stores &c. required to meet the 
demand of your urgent necessities; regretting only, my inability to 
furnish the whole.^ You will oblige me by signing the requisitions & 
receipts annexed to the several invoices transmitted by Lt. Hunter & 
with a view to the settlement of Purser J. H. Watmough's Accounts 
at the Navy Department." Be pleased to give an order, or bill (in 
duplicate) on the proper Department of Government, pavable to 
Purser Watmough's order, to the 4th. Auditor of the Treasury for 


the aggregate amount of money & Pursers Stores Supplied. Articles 
having no prices affixed need only to be receipted for. 

Lieut. Gillespie informs me that you may find it convenient to 
visit the Portsmouth at Santa Barbara should we have occasion to go 
there. With this prospect in vieu^ I beg leave again to assure you, that 
we shall all on board be most happy to see you. Very Respectfully I 
am Sir, Your Obt. Servt. 

Jno. B, Montgomery 


Capt. J. C. Fremont 

Bt. Capt. U.S. Topi. Engineers 

Upper California 

Lbk (DNA-45. no. 22, Officers' Letters, Letterbooks of J. B. Montgomery). 

1. Lieut. Benjamin F. Hunter of the Portsmouth later became acting 
captain of Company C in Stockton's battalion. In addition to the supplies 
listed in Doc. No. 29, JCF had asked for $1,500. 

2. Two months later purser James H. Watmough was put in command 
of the Santa Clara garrison, in which capacity he made a successful campaign 
against the Indians on the Stanislaus. 

33. Jessie B. Fremont to Fremont 

June 16, 1846 
My Dearest Husband, 

A Mr. Magoffin^ says he will be at Bent's Fort a month from to- 
morrow, and that he will leave a letter for you, so I write, dearest 
husband, to tell you how happy I have been made by hearing of you 
up to the 31st of March, through Mr. Larkin. Only the day before, I 
had received the Mexican account of your being besieged by Gen. 
Castro, and I was much relieved by what Mr. Larkin says — that you 
could present yourself at Monterey, alone, if you wished, and not be 
harmed. But I hope that as I write you are rapidly nearing home, 
and that early in September there will be an end to our anxieties. 
In your dear letter" you tell me that le bon temps viendra, and my 


faith in you is such that I believe it will come: and it will come to all 
you love, for during your long absence God has been good to us and 
kept in health your mother and all you love best. This opportunity 
of writing only presented itself last night, so that there is not time 
for a letter from your mother herself, but I had one from her two 
days ago in which she tells me that during the warm weather she 
will remain at a place about ten miles from Mount Pleasant. Her 
stay in the country did her health much good last fall and indeed it 
has been good generally throughout the winter. Her heart has been 
made glad by your brilliant success, and your late promotion, al- 
though it distressed her to anticipate more separations, could not but 
be most gratifying in many respects. You must let me make you my 
heartiest congratulations. I am sorry that I could not be the first to 
call you Colonel. It will please you the more as it was entirely a free 
will offering of the President's, neither father nor I nor anyone for 
us having asked or said we would like it. 

So your merit has advanced you in eight years from an unknown 
second lieutenant, to the most talked of and admired lieutenant- 
colonel in the army. Almost all of the old officers called to congratu- 
late me upon it, the Aberts among them, and I have heard of no 
envy except from some of the lower order of Whig papers who only 
see you as Colonel Benton's son-in-law. As for your Report, its popu- 
larity astonished even me, your most confirmed and oldest wor- 
shipper. Lilly has it read to her (the stories, of course) as a reward 
for good behavior. She asked Preuss the other day if it was true that 
he caught ants on his hands and eat them — he was so amazed that 
he could not answer her, and she said, "I read it in papa's lepote; it 
was when you were lost in California." Father absolutely idolizes 
Lilly; she is so good and intelligent that I do not wonder at it. And 
then you should see his pride in you! 

Mother's health has been worse than ever during the winter, but 
the force of the disease seems now to have expended itself, and she is 
quite well again. That gave me a reason for staying at home quietly 
as I wished, and I have read so much that is improving that you will 
be very pleased with me. Your mother was kind enough to send me 
your daguerreotype, and it hangs over the head of my bed and is my 
guardian angel, for I could not waste time or do anything you did 
not like with that beloved face looking so kindly and earnesdy at me. I 
opened a new history of Louisiana, a week or two ago, and it com- 
menced with the Spanish discoveries on the southern part of the 


continent. I was by myself, Lilly asleep, and reading by our lamp. 
When I came to De Soto's search for the fountain of youth, I 
stopped, for it seemed as if pleasant old days had returned ; and then 
I remembered so well what you once wrote to me that I could not 
help bursting into tears. Do you remember, darling? 

It was soon after we were married, and you wrote me, "Fear not 
for our happiness; if the hope for it is not something wilder than the 
Spaniards' search for the fountain in Florida, we will find it yet." I 
remembered it word for word, although it was so long since I read it. 
Dear, dear husband, you do not know how proud and grateful I am 
that you love me. We have found the fountain of perpetual youth for 
love, and I believe there are few others who can say so. I try very 
hard to be worthy of your love. 

I had meant to tell you of many things which might interest, but 
it would take a day to choose out from the year's accumulation. The 
road you have discovered is spoken of as giving you more distinction 
than anything you have vet done. I had to publish almost all your 
letter, and like everything you write it has been reprinted all over 
the country. I have some beautiful poetry to show you on our motto 
le bon temps vie^idra. Editors have written to me for your biography 
and likeness, but I had no orders from you and then you know it 
would look odd to leave out your age, and you never told me how 
old vou were yet. 

How old are you ? You might tell me now I am a colonel's wife — 
won't you, old papa ? Poor papa, it made tears come to find you had 
begun to turn gray. You must have suffered much and been very 
anxious, "but all that must pass." I am very sorry you did not get our 
letters. Yours gave so much happiness that I grieved you could not 
have had as much from ours. You will of course come on here as 
soon as you get back. I wanted to go to St. Louis to meet you, but 
father says I had better not, as it will be very uncomfortable and 
even dangerous to go out in the worst of the season, and I don't 
want to be sick, for I am not going to let you write anything but 
your name when vou get home. And then we will probably have to 
be at Jefferson Barracks during the winter and until the new regi- 
ment is ready for the field. Father says you are to accept the appoint- 
ment as it was given, with the understanding that you were to be 
kept on scientific dutv under the direction of the Senate. Mr. 
[Daniel] Webster savs it would be too great a loss to the science of 
the country if you were stopped in your onward course. If I begin 


telling you the sincere compliments from people whose names are 
known in Europe as well as America I would need a day. 

You must have a few to think of, however. Edward Everett, Mr. 
Gallatin, Stevens (Central America), Davis, the author of "Jack 
Downing," a Dr. Barrett of Connecticut, a botanist who sent me his 
herbarium of American grasses (for which he wants the bufifalo and 
bunch grasses) are among the Northern men.^ The South Caro- 
linians claim you bodily, and Dr. Grayson^ of Charleston wrote 
one of the most beautiful of all the notices I saw. Your early and 
steady friends, Mr. McCrady and Mr. Poinsett, were the first to 
whom I sent well-bound copies of your book. You are ranked with 
DeFoe [Daniel Defoe]. They say that as Robinson Crusoe is the 
most natural and interesting fiction of travel, so Fremont's report is 
the most romantically truthful. I have a letter from the President of 
the Royal Geographical Society, Lord Chichester [Colchester],^ who 
says he could not help preparing a paper on your travels to be read 
at their meeting — and more and more and many more of the same. 
Mr. Magoffin has come for the letter and I must stop. I have not 
had so much pleasure in a very great while as today. The thought 
that you may hear from me and know that all are well and that I 
can tell you again how dearly I love you makes me as happy as I can 
be while you are away. 

All Jacob's relations are well. I see Mrs. Talbot and her daughter 
constantly. They are so grateful to you for your mention of Theo- 

Farewell, dear, dear husband. In a few months we shall not know 
what sorrow means. At least, I humbly hope and pray so. 

Your own affectionate and devoted wife, 

Jessie B. Fremont 

Printed in nevins, 301-4. Nevins cites the location of the letter as the Ban- 
croft, but that library has no record of it (William M. Roberts to Mary Lee 
Spence, 26 May 1971). 

1. James Wiley Magoffin (1799-1868), a native of Kentucky, had long been 
interested in trade with Santa Fe and Chihuahua. He had resided within 
Mexican territory for some nineteen years, spoke Spanish fluently, and knew 
many influential Mexicans. Benton introduced him to President Polk, and 
when Magoffin sped west to Bent's Fort with JBF's letter, he also carried 
important ones to Kearny from Polk and the Secretary of War. As a result 
of these messages and a conference with Magoffin, Kearny gave the trader a 
letter to Governor Manuel Armijo and ordered a military escort, commanded 
by Capt. Philip St. George Cooke, to accompany him to Santa Fe under a 
flag of truce. By clever diplomacy and perhaps bribery, Magoffin made pos- 


sible a bloodless occupation of New Mexico by Kearny. Magoffin intended to 
repeat the process in Chihuahua for Gen. John E. Wool, but his previous 
success imperiled his venture. He was captured, and only his resolution, 
wealth, and resourcefulness enabled him to stay alive until finally freed by 
U.S. troops (benton [1], 2:682-84; clarke, 126-38). 

2. JCF's letter of 24 Jan. 1846 from Yerba Buena. 

3. Most of the "Northern men" mentioned by JBF had national reputations. 
Edward Everett (1794-1865), Unitarian clergyman and statesman, had been 
the U.S. minister to Great Britain, and at the time of JBF's letter he was 
president of Harvard University. Albert Gallatin (1781-1849), former Secre- 
tary of the Treasury in both Jefferson's and Madison's administrations, would 
seek information from JCF when the latter returned from his third expedition 
(Doc. No. 213). Noted for the study of Mayan civilization and for volumes 
on his travels in Central America and Yucatan, John Lloyd Stephens (1805- 
52) would initiate the building of the Panama Railroad. Various letter 
writers used the pseudonym "Major Jack Downing," which had been orig- 
inated by Seba Smith, but New York businessman Charles Augustus Davis 
(1795-1867) was the most popular to do so. At least eight printings of his 
Letters of J. Downiiig, Major, Downirigville Militia, Second Brigade, to His 
Old Frietid, Mr. Dwight, of the New-York^ Daily Advertiser were issued in 
1834. Although both JBF and an obituary notice in the New York Times {11 
Jan. 1882) give Barrett as the name of the Connecticut physician, botanist, 
and mineralogist, this was actually the English-born Joseph Barratt. 

4. Not a doctor but a lawyer, William John Grayson (1788-1863) was a 
member of an old South Carolina family. He had been in Congress in the 
1830s, but at the time of JBF's letter he was collector of the port of Charleston. 
In the fifties he turned poet, both for self-expression and as an apologist for 
the South, with The Hireling and the Slave his best-known poem. 

5. Charles Abbot (1798-1867), Lord Colchester, an officer in the Royal 
Navy, was president of the society from 1845 to 1847. 

34. Fremont to John B. Montgomery 

New Helvetia, California; June 16 1846. 

I had the gratification to receive on the 6th. your letter of the 3d. 
Inst; and the farther gratification to receive yesterday by the hands 
of Lieut. Hunter your favor of the 10th. conveying to me assurances 
of your disposition to do any thing within the scope of your instruc- 
tions to facilitate the public service in which I am engaged.^ In 
acknowledging the receipt of the stores with which you have sup- 
plied us, I beg you to receive the earnest thanks of myself and party 
for the prompt & active kindness, which we are all in a condition 
fully to appreciate. My time today has been so constantly engrossed 


that I could make no opportunity to write, and as it is now nearly 
midnight you will permit me to refer you to Lieut. Hunter for an 
account of the condition of the country, which will doubtless have 
much interest for you. The people here have made some movements 
with the view of establishing a settled & stable Government, which 
may give security to their persons & property." This evening I was 
interrupted in a note to yourself by the arrival of Genl. Vallejo and 
other officers, who had been taken prisoners & insisted on surrender- 
ing to me.^ The people and authorities of the country persist in con- 
necting me with every movement of the foreigners, & I am in hourly 
expectation of the approach of Genl. Castro.'* 

My position has consequently become a difficult one. The unex- 
pected hostilitv which has been exercised towards us on the part of 
the military authorities of California has entirely deranged the plan 
of our survey & frustrated my intention of examining the Colorado 
of the gulf of California, which was one of the principal objects of 
this expedition. The suffering to which my party would be unavoid- 
ably exposed at this advanced period of the year by deprivation of 
water during intervals of three and four days, renders any move- 
ment in that direction impracticable. 

It is therefore my present intention to abandon the farther prosecu- 
tion of our exploration and proceed immediately across the moun- 
tainous country to the eastward in the direction of the head waters of 
the Arkansaw river, and thence to the frontier of Missouri, where I 
expect to arrive early in September. In order to recruit my animals 
and arrange my equipage for a long journey, I shall necessarily be 
compelled to remain here untill about the first of July. In the mean 
time should any thing be attempted against me, I cannot, consis- 
tently with my own feelings and respect for the national character of 
the duty in which I am engaged, permit a repetition of the recent 
insults we have received from Genl. Castro. If therefore, any hostile 
movements are made in this direction, I will most assuredly meet or 
anticipate them; and with such intention I am regulating my con- 
duct to the people here. The nature of my instructions & the peaceful 
nature of our operations, do not contemplate any active hostility on 
my part even in the event of war between the two countries; and 
therefore although I am resolved to take such active and precau- 
tionary measures as I shall judge necessary for our safety, I am not 
authorized to ask from you any other than such assistance, as with- 
out incurring yourself unusual responsibility, you would feel at 


liberty to afford me. Such an emergency could not have been antici- 
pated in any instructions; but between indians on the one hand and 
a hostile people on the other, I trust that our Government will not 
severely censure any efforts to which we may be driven in defence of 
oUr lives and character. In this condition of things I can only then 
urgently request that you will remain with the Portsmouth in the 
Bay of San Francisco, where your presence will operate strongly to 
check proceedings against us; and I would feel much more security 
in my position should you judge it advisable to keep open a com- 
munication with me by means of your boats. In this way you would 
receive the earliest information, and you might possibly spare us the 
aid of one of your surgeons in case of accident here. Repeating my 
thanks for the assistance you have rendered us and regretting my in- 
ability to visit you on board the Portsmouth, I am Sir, very respect- 
fully Your Obedt. Servt. 

J. C. Fremont 

Bt. Capt. Topi. Engineers 

U.S. Army 

Capt Jno. B. Montgomery 
U. S. Ship Portsmouth 
Bay of San Francisco 

ALS, RC (DNA-45, Area 9 File, Pacific). 

1. Interesting accounts of the delivery of the stores to ICF are to be found 
in DOWNEY, 28-33, and duvall, 13-22. In addition to Lieutenant Hunter and 
the boat's crew and pilot, the launch carried Gillespie and his servant; purser 
Watmough; the assistant naval surgeon on the Portsmouth , Marius Duvall; 
R. Eugene Russell, one of ICF's voyageurs; and a "lawless Frenchman," 
probably David Beauchamp, who had been discharged by fCF in February. 

2. The "movements" to which fCF referred were two. On 10 lune a party 
of twelve or fourteen American settlers, led by Ezekiel Merritt, seized a 
cabaUada of horses as they were being driven from Sonoma to Santa Clara, 
where lose Castro was organizing his forces. The rumor had spread that 
they were to be used by him to drive the American settlers from the Sacra- 
mento Valley. Commanding the small horse guard of nearly a dozen Cali- 
fornians were Lieut. Francisco Arce and Lieut. lose Maria Alviso. The 
Californians were permitted to continue their journey armed and mounted, 
but the captured horses were delivered to JCF's camp, which he was moving 
from the Sutter Buttes to the more strategic location of his old camp on the 
American River. Four days later (14 lune) a group of thirty-odd Americans, 
initially led again by Ezekiel Merritt, captured undefended Sonoma, the 
stronghold of Mexican power in the north. The next day the independent 
Bear Flag Republic was established, with William B. Ide in command. For 
Larkin's account of these events, see his letter to Foxen D. Atherton, 20 luly 


1846, NUNis [2]. See also Jacob P. Leese, "Bear Flag Statement" (CU-B), and 

IDE [2]. 

3. Gen. Mariano G. Vallejo, Capt. Salvador Vallejo, and Lieut. Col. Victor 
Prudon were taken prisoner at Sonoma and incarcerated at Sutter's Fort. The 
Vallejos' brother-in-law, Jacob P. Leese, who had accompanied the three as 
interpreter, was also ordered imprisoned. Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo (1807- 
90), secularizer of the Mission San Francisco Solano, founder of the town 
of Sonoma, and owner of large tracts of land north of the Bay of San Fran- 
cisco, including Rancho Petaluma, was the dominant native Californian in 
provincial affairs north of Monterey. Although he often warned the central 
government of the danger inherent in such establishments as Sutter's New 
Helvetia, he was more receptive to U.S. influence than European. Generous 
and able, he was elected to the constitutional convention in 1849 and to the 
first state senate. His brother, Salvador Vallejo (1814-76), whom he had es- 
tablished at Sonoma and who was often in command of the post or fighting 
Indians, was of a rougher nature. Victor Prudon, a Frenchman who had come 
from Mexico to CaUfornia in 1834 to teach, had become Mariano G. Vallejo's 
secretary in 1842 and was living in Sonoma when the Bear Flaggers appeared. 
Jacob Primer Leese (1809-92), Ohioan by birth and former employee of Bent, 
St. Vrain and Company, had come to California in 1833. For a time he was 
in partnership with Nathan Spear and William S. Hinckley, but a quarrel 
disrupted the alliance. A few years after Leese married Rosalia Vallejo, he 
transferred his business and residence to Sonoma, becoming alcalde in 1844- 
45, often quarreling with Prudon, in turn never being completely trusted by 
Mariano G. Vallejo, and eventually leaving his family. See mc kittrick and 
TAYs [3] for the influence and interrelationships of the Vallejo family. 

4. James H. Gleason wrote his uncle, William Paty, in Oahu, "It is gen- 
erally believed here [Monterey] that Captain Fremont is the mover in the 
revolution" (3 July 1846 letter in gleason). Little wonder that Gleason and 
others persisted in connecting JCF with the movements of the Americans. 
The circumstances of his return to the Sacramento Valley convinced many 
Californians that he had been called back by Gillespie and was merely biding 
his time. Sutter wrote Mariano G. Vallejo, "I think Senor Fremont has to 
wait until the arrival of the frigate Congress, which has Commodore Stock- 
ton aboard, to receive orders, in case war is declared" (1 June 1846, cal. his. 
soc. DOCS., 6:185). JCF sent messengers advising American settlers to or- 
ganize for their mutual safety. William B. Ide tells of having received by the 
hand of an Indian "agent" on 8 June at his cabin on Josiah Belden's Rancho 
Barranca Colorada the following unsigned message: " 'Notice is hereby 
given, that a large body of armed Spaniards on horseback, amounting to 250 
men, have been seen on their way to the Sacramento Valley, destroying the 
crops, burning the houses, and driving off the cattle. Capt. Fremont invites 
every freeman in the valley to come to his camp at the Butes, immediately; 
and he hopes to stay the enemy, and put a stop to his' — (Here the sheet was 
folded and worn in-two, and no more is found)" (ide [2], 30). Both of 
Merritt's "capturing parties" had set out from JCF's camp, and by the ex- 
plorer's own account, Merritt was his "Field Lieutenant" among the settlers 
(memoirs, 509), of which there was a constant flow to his camp. It was not 
until 20 June that he decided "to govern events" rather than "to be governed 
by them" and openly began participating in the Bear Flag movement 
(memoirs, 520). Here, in justice to William B. Ide, should be mentioned his 
claim to be the real conqueror of California. He maintained that when the 


Americans moved in on Sonoma, the majority understood, because of the 
"advice" of }CF, that their only business was to take certain principal men 
prisoner in order to provoke Castro "to stride the first blow" in a war with 
the United States. It was he who rallied them to independence and conquest. 
In fact, he contended, his plans were so far carried out, before JCF under- 
took the direction of affairs, that the subsequent military acts were needless 
(IDE [2], 28-46). 

35. John B. Montgomery to Fremont 

U. S. ship Portsmouth 
Sau Solito, June 23, 1846 

By Lieut. Hunter who reached the ship on Saturday Evening [20 
June] from your camp, I had the pleasure to receive your letter of 
the 16th inst. announcing the seasonable reception of the stores for- 
w^arded by him. The last few days have teemed with important 
events ; pointing in my view, to results momentous to the interests of 
California and our own Country. I have determined to remain where 
I am at present, looking after the interests of our country and coun- 
trymen, requiring to be watched at this crisis, and readily comply 
with your suggestion to keep open the communication with your 
camp, by means of my boats ; in pursuance of which it is intended to 
send a boat in the morning (tomorrow) in charge of Lieut. Revere^ 
(who will hand you this) and another on Saturday next, by return 
of which you will be pleased to inform me, whether a third boat 
will be likely to reach you at your present camp or not. The Surgeon 
of the Portsmouth (Doctor Henderson) goes in the boat, with 
orders to remain with you until the return of the next boat, or longer 
should you desire it.^ Altho aware that the public mind in California 
was prepared for a change of Government, I little expected the 
movement to take place at this time or in the manner it has. The 
capture of the horses and the surprise at Sonoma were master 
strokes, but should have been followed up by a rush upon Santa 
Clara, where Castro, with the residue of ordnance & munitions in the 
country, might have been taken by thirty men at any time previous 
to Saturday Evening. Castro must feel sensibly the loss of the two 
Vallejos & Prudon as well as that of the arms & munitions taken at 


Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. From a print in the Bancroft Library. 
Courtesy of George P. Hammond. 


I have exchanged communications with the commanders on 
both sides, and others; preserving a strict neutrality and avowing my 
purpose of scrupulously adhering to this principal; while I confess 
my sympathies are wholly with the gallant little band in arms for 
mutual defence."* Individuals and small parties from this section 
have been joining the insurgents at Sonoma daily I am informed, 
and Lt. Hunter brings intelligence of Sutter's union with them.^ An 
irregular force of one hundred and fifty are said to have joined Cas- 
tro at Santa Clara on Saturday brought from the vicinity of Mon- 
terey by Emanuel Castro the Sub-Prefect of that place, and I am just 
informed that they are expected to cross the Straits, and take horses 
at point St. Pedro where a number have been collected for their use 
this evening, and move directly upon Sonoma. If this is the case we 
shall soon know the result. 

I yesterday heard of the arrival of the United States ship Cyane at 
Monterey, where the Congress is also daily looked for from the Is- 
lands, where she arrived on the 13th of May. Not a word of news 
has yet been received by the Cyane, but I think she must bring from 
Mazatlan something respecting our Mexican concerns. 

I received a letter from Castro a few days since a copy of which, as 
it relates solely to your imagined operations, I have thought it well 
to send you with my reply.*' Also two proclamations this moment re- 

Should anything of consequence reach me from the Cyane before 
sending the next boat, I will not fail to communicate it to you. In the 
meantime permit me to subscribe myself Very Respectfully Your 
Obt. Servt., 

Jno. B. Montgomery 

To Capt. J. C. Fremont 
U. S. Topi. Engineers, 
Sacramento, Upper California 

N.B. — Since writing the above, I have heard there is no probability 
of Castro's movement upon Sonoma for several days; they are using 
great efforts to purchase arms, etc. 

Lbk (DNA-45, no. 22, Officers' Letters, Letterbooks of J. B. Montgomery). 

1. Lieut. Joseph Warren Revere (1812-80) would publish an account of 
his part in the cont]uest of California in 1849 under the title .7 Tour of Duty 
in California. Resigning from the Navy in 1850, he became a rancher and 


trader. When the Civil War broke out, he became colonel of the 7th New 
Jersey Volunteers and ultimately a brigadier general. 

2. Andrew A. Henderson was assistant surgeon on the Portsmouth and in 
1847 was surgeon in Stockton's battalion. 

3. In his 15 June 1846 letter addressed to Commodore Stockton, but 
delivered to Commander Montgomery by special messenger William L. Todd, 
William B. Ide had written that "8 Field Pieces, 200 stand of arms, a great 
quantity of cannon, canister and Grape shot, and little less than 100 lbs. of 
powder had been captured" (cal. his. soc. docs., 1:82-83). Mariano G. 
Vallejo's biographer, Tays, maintains that the brass cannon were "small and 
mostly unserviceable" and the muskets "shop worn and out of repair" (tays 
[3], 17:164). 

4. Mariano G. Vallejo had immediately (14 June) sent Don Jose de la 
Rosa to Montgomery to inform him of what had happened at Sonoma and 
to request that he use his authority or exert his influence to prevent the com- 
mission of acts of violence by the insurgents, since they denied acting under 
the authority of the United States and seemed to be without an effective 
leader. Vallejo petitioned Montgomery to send an officer or a letter that 
would save the helpless Sonoma inhabitants from violence and anarchy 
(statement of the interview between El Senor Don Jose de la Rosa and Com- 
mander Montgomery, by Lieut. W. A. Bartlett, cal. his. soc. docs., 1:79-80). 
On the other side, William B. Ide sent William L. Todd with a letter ad- 
dressed to Commodore Stockton, but delivered to Montgomery, which re- 
counted the events of 10 and 14 June, justified the establishment of the Bear 
Flag Republic, assured that private property would be protected, and ex- 
pressed an earnest desire "to embrace the first opportunity to unite our 
adopted and rescued country, to the country of our early home" (copy of 
William B. Ide's letter, 15 June 1846, cal. his. soc. docs., 1:82-83). 

5. Sutter's union with the Bear Flaggers was not an enthusiastic one, but 
he did agree to man and prepare his fort for the coming events. However, his 
hospitable treatment of his distinguished California prisoners irritated JCF, 
and soon the command of the fort was entrusted to Edward M. Kern, the 
artist and topographer of the expedition. 

6. In his letter of 17 June 1846 Gen. Jose Castro had asked Montgomery for 
an explanation of JCF's conduct in invading California, taking possession of 
the military post of Sonoma, and imprisoning the commander and some 
residents of the post. He termed these "scandalous and unwarrantable 
offences." In his reply of the next day Montgomery assured Castro of his 
"entire conviction" that JCF's visit had reference only to "scientific re- 
searches" and was in no manner whatever, "either by authority of the United 
States Government or otherwise," connected with the movement against 
Sonoma. He referred to the unjustifiable and "gratuitous" demonstration 
against JCF in March and regretted that Castro had fallen into error a 
"second time." Furthermore, he pointed out that to charge JCF with cooperat- 
ing in the Sonoma affair was to impugn the integrity of the U.S. government 
(both letters in cal. his. soc. docs., 2:69-71). 

7. The proclamations which Montgomery forwarded to JCF were probably 
the two issued by Jose Castro from Santa Clara on 17 June 1846 and ordered 
"published, circulated, and fixed in the customary conspicuous places" by 
the alcalde. One called upon Castro's countrymen to sacrifice themselves in 
the defense of liberty, independence, and "the true religion possessed by our 
fathers," and the second assured protection to foreigners, provided "they mix 


in no revolutionary movements." Larkin forwarded copies to the Secretary 
of State in his 24 June 1846 letter, no. 50b. They are also nos. 29 and 30 
in the report which he sent with his letter of 20 July 1846. 

36. Fremont's Commission as Lieutenant Colonel 

[26 June 1846] 

The President of the United States of America, To All Who 
Shall See These Presents, Greeting: 

Know Ye, that reposing special trust and confidence in the patrio- 
tism, valor, fidelity and abilities of John C. Fremont, I have nomi- 
nated, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, Do 
Appoint him Lieutenant Colonel in the Regiment of Mounted Rifle- 
men, in the service of the United States: to rank as such from the 
twenty seventh day of May, eighteen hundred and forty six. He is 
therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the duty of Lieutenant 
Colonel, by doing and performing all manner of things thereunto 
belonging. And I do strictly charge, and require all Ofhcers and 
Soldiers under his command to be obedient to his orders as Lieuten- 
ant Colonel. And he is to observe and follow such orders and direc- 
tions, from time to time, as he shall receive from me, or the future 
President of the United States of America, or the General or other 
superior Officers set over him, according to the rules and discipline 
of War. This Commission to continue in force during the pleasure 
of the President of the United States, for the time being. 

Given under my hand, at the City of Washington, this twenty 
sixth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hun- 
dred and forty six, and in the seventieth year of the Independence of 
the United States. 

By the President. James K. Polk 

Wm. L. Marcy, Secretary of War 

Basic printed form (DNA-94, Register of Army Commissions, Issued and 
Distributed, vol. 11, 1846-47). The original was sent to Benton; on 3 Nov. 
1846 the Adjutant General's Office notified [CF that it was sending a certified 
copy to CaHfornia by Col. Richard B. Mason of the 1st Dragoons (Lbk, 
DNA-94, LS, 23:109). JCF received the news of his promotion (but probably 
not a copy of the commission) when he returned to Monterey in the ship 
Sterling on 27 or 28 Oct. 1846. The records do not show any formal ac- 

ceptance of his lieutenant colonelcy, and the first communication received by 
the Adjutant General's Office after his appointment was the letter dated 17 
Sept. 1847 reporting himself in arrest pursuant to the orders of Brigadier 
General Kearny (S. Cooper to R. Burgess, Lbk, DNA-94, LS, 28:371). 

37. John B. Montgomery to Fremont 

U. S. Ship Portsmouth 
Yerba Buena June 26, 1846 

Since writing to you by Lieutenant Revere, a force of Seventy Cal- 
ifornians moving from Santa Clara towards Sonoma after passing 
the narrows of the Bay, twelve miles to the Nd. of my anchorage, 
were met by a party of fifteen of revolutionists, and checked, or as 
reported, compelled to fall back with the loss of two killed & two 
wounded, two of the fifteen also falling by the fire of their op- 
ponents.^ This first success, tho seemingly a small afTair, cannot fail 
I think to give a favorable impulse to the operations of the insur- 
gents, and attract at once, numbers of the Foreign residents to their 
aid. Although neutral in my position, I cannot be so in feeling, and 
am anxiously looking for farther intelligence, believing that in- 
activity in the circumstances can form no part of the policy of the 
Sonoma party, 

Castro has written to me saying that "He had received advice from 
various sources, that the boats of the American ship Portsmouth go 
about the Bay of San Francisco armed, for the purpose of examining 
its trade, &c." This of course I have very honestly denied, but in- 
formed him that I had sent two Boats since the 10th inst. to your 
camp, and deemed it proper in the circumstances to notify him of 
my intention to despatch another for the purpose of communicating 
with you at the close of the week, since which I have heard nothing 
from him. He is at Santa Clara with about seventy men it is said. 

I have directed Lt. Bartlett" to bring Surgeon Henderson with him 
when he returns, unless your detention beyond the period named 
for your final departure for the U. States should render his further 
continuance important, of which you will please be the judge. Lieut. 
Bartlett will hand you Sir a package for the Honorable Secretary of 
the Navy, which if perfectly convenient (not otherwise), I will 


thank you to take charge of and forward from any point of com- 
munication most convenient to yourself. 

[Commander Montgomery's letterboo^ then indicates that the 
following extracts from Thomas Oliver Larkjn's letter of 20 June 
1846 (which he had received on 25 June) were included for JCF's 

"From a confidential letter dated May 18, 1846 Mazatlan, I learn 
from Com. Sloat that he expected to be here as soon as the "Cyane" 
and will have all his vessels on this coast. He is informed from our 
Government that I shall be prepared to give him the necessary infor- 
mation, consult and advise with him relative to future measures. 
From this I must suppose there are dispatches sent to me that I have 
not rec'd. The misfortune is that our Mazatlan consul was not aware 
of the sailing of the "Cyane" for this port. Therefore I am deprived 
of my mail, yet the information desired could hardly come via 
Mexico. I must believe they are on the road over the mountains. 

"Com. Sloat adds that supposing I shall understand him he does 
not write more particulars. I presume he only calls off this port and 
then proceeds to San Francisco. The officers are not aware of the 
squadrons coming to California the Commodore wishing it to re- 
main a secret. He was in expectation of reaching here before Captain 
Melvine [Mervine]. I therefore look for him daily. I believe he 
expects me to go on board for San Francisco. 

"You will see into the affair as you can, as I can not explain it." 

[Montgomery indicates that he made some remarks on the above 
extract but did not record them. He then concluded his letter:^ 

Wishing you Sir, a safe and pleasant journey to your country & 
home I have the honor to subscribe myself Very Respectfully Your 
obt. Servt.,^ 

Jno. B, Montgomery 


Capt. J. C. Fremont 
U. S. Topgl. Engineers 
Upper California 

Lbk (DNA-45, no. 22, Officers' Letters, Letterbooks of J. B. Montgomery). 
See also Larkin to Montgomery, Monterey, 20 June 1846 (DNA-45, Area 9 
File, Pacific). 

At the suggestion of Vice-Consul Leidesdorfif, the Portsmouth had moved 


on 23 June from Sausalito to Yerba Buena, to protect the vice-consul's property 
and that of other American citizens from "the probable outrages of the 
Californians" (duvall, 24-25). From Monterey, James H. Gleason wrote to 
his uncle, "The U. S. Ship 'Portsmouth' . . . supplies in a secret manner 
Ide's party with provisions and ammunition" (3 July 1846 letter in gleason). 

1. Montgomery is referring to the encounter of the small force under Bear 
Flagger Henry L. Ford with the much larger force of Joaquin de la Torre 
on 24 June. Actually only one Californian seems to have been killed at this 
engagement at Olompali. Since the Americans maintained they had no 
casualties as a result of the engagement, Montgomery must refer to the 
murder of Thomas Cowie and George Fowler, who had been taken prisoner 
a few days earlier by a small band of Californians. Before the engagement 
of 24 June Ford asserted he had sent to the Sacramento a report that Castro 
was crossing with troops at Carquinez Strait with the intention of attacking 
Sonoma (rogers [1], 29:266-69). 

2. Lieut. Washington Allon Bartlett of the Portsmouth, who has been 
identified by hussey [1] as author of "The Farthest West" letters from 
California in 1846, arrived at Sutter's Fort on 28 June to find that JCF had 
left with reinforcements for Sonoma on 23 June. On 29 June Bartlett, in com- 
pany with John Bidwell, set out overland for Sonoma. 

3. It may have been a surprise when Gillespie came on board the Ports- 
mouth the next day, 27 June, to inform Montgomery that JCF was at San 
Rafael, some twelve miles distant (duvall, 26). 

38. Fremont to John B. Montgomery 

Sonoma: July 5th. 1846 

I have the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt at this place of your 
two communications, dated June 23d & 26th, the latter highly inter- 
esting, in connection with the present crisis. I trust that by the time 
you receive this note, the arrival of Com, Sloat will have put an 
end to your neutral position. 

Besides owing you my acknowledgments for the professional aid 
of Dr. Henderson, I am much indebted to you for the pleasure of his 
acquaintance, as our pursuits appear to have been somewhat similar. 
I found him with Lt. Bartlett here on my arrival, 2 days since.^ 

A military organization of the force under arms was yesterday 
made at this place, and farther than this, I have nothing of present 
interest to communicate to you." I shall today continue my road to- 
wards Sutter's Fort, on the Sacramento.^ Foreigners from below are 
dailv arriving at this post, and we have information that upwards of 
100 good men are now in the upper part of the Sacramento valley, 


on their road from Oregon, The intelligence was brought by a party 
of 7 men who were in advance. Of these, 5 were wounded, one very 
dangerously, in an attack by the Indians. This man was shot through 
the body and is lying at one of the upper settlements. 

I forward this by Lt. Bartlett, who is about starting, and to my 
great regret, Dr. Henderson accompanies him. 

I trust that, in case anything of moment should occur, you will 
not find it inconsistent with your convenience and the strict neutral- 
ity of your position to give me some information. Thanking you in 
the meantime for your recent kindness, I am Sir, very respectfully 
Your obedient servt., 

J. C. Fremont 
Bt. Capt. U. S. Topi. Engineers 

Captain Jno. B. Montgomery 

U. S. Ship Portsmouth, Bay of San Francisco 

ALS, RC (DNA-45, Area 9 File, Pacific). 

1. Note that JCF spends no time recounting his activities since his first 
arrival at Sonoma on 25 June. He left the next day for Mission San Rafael 
with a force augmented to about 125 to search for Joaquin de la Torre and 
to intercept additional forces which Castro might send across San Francisco 
Bay. During the course of this search Ramon and Francisco de Haro, twin 
brothers who were carrying a message to Torre and were accompanied by 
their uncle, Jose de los Reyes Berreyesa, fell into the hands of JCF's party 
near San Rafael, and all three were shot to death (for details, see Doc. No. 
52, n. 6). Another intercepted letter, written expressly to fall into JCF's 
hands, led him to believe that Torre planned to attack Sonoma the next 
morning and caused him to make a night march (28-29 June) back to 
Sonoma. This left the Californians a clear path of retreat to Sausalito, where 
they commandeered a launch from Capt. William A. Richardson, crossed the 
bay to San Pablo, and rejoined Castro. The next day Castro's reunited force 
marched south. JCF then busied himself by making two small raids south of 
the bay. On 1 July, with about twelve men, perhaps as many as twenty, he 
crossed the Golden Gate from Sausalito in a launch borrowed from the 
American ship Moscow. Its captain, William D. Phelps, acted as pilot. JCF 
spiked the cannons of the old ungarrisoned Spanish fort, Castillo de San 
Joaquin, at present Fort Point beneath the southern end of the modern 
Golden Gate Bridge. On 2 July he sent ten men, commanded by Robert 
Semple, to Yerba Buena to capture the alcalde, William S. Hinckley. But 
Hinckley had died a few days before, so Robert Ridley, the harbor master, 
was taken instead and sent as a prisoner to Sutter's Fort. The capture of 
Ridley must have delighted Leidesdorff, who had long predicted that the 
cockney would get his "just due." When JCF returned to Sonoma, he found 
Dr. Henderson and Lieutenant Bartlett there and celebrated a victorious 
Fourth of July (memoirs, 525-26; phelps, 290; radcliffe). Later Robert B. 
Semple certified that his party went to Yerba Buena on 1 July (CSmH), but 
Montgomery definitely dates it "mid day" 2 July (larkin, 5:94-96). For his 


services on that July day, Phelps later attempted to collect $10,000, but Archi- 
bald Gillespie certified that "there was no enemy present, and the sole object 
Captain Fremont had in view was to prevent the Californians from using the 
guns at any future time. There was no risk or personal danger incurred, and 
the service would be well paid for at fifty dollars" {Presidential Message on 
the Accounts of John C. Fremont, Senate Exec. Doc. 109, p. 71, 34th Cong., 
1st sess., Serial 825). 

2. A four-company battalion was organized to conquer Castro. JCF was 
in command, Gillespie was adjutant, and Henry L. Ford, Granville P. Swift, 
and John Grigsby were elected captains of three companies. But since the 
fourth company was made up largely of men from the exploring expedition, 
JCF appointed its commander, Richard Owens. JCF later noted that if he 
had withdrawn, the independence movement "would have collapsed with 
absolute ruin to the settlers." In accepting the position of command, he ad- 
dressed the settlers and "dwelt on the responsibility which I had assumed as 
an officer of the United States Army, trusting to them to do nothing which 
would discredit themselves or our country" (memoirs, 526; Rogers [4], 54- 
56; MARTI, 61). 

3. Grigsby and his company of about fifty men were left to garrison 
Sonoma; the remainder proceeded to the Sacramento. En route, parties were 
sent out to procure horses and cattle to mount and feed the battalion. 

39. John D. Sloat to John B. Montgomery 

Flag Ship Savannah 
Monterey, July 6th. 1846 

Since I wrote you last evening I have determined to hoist the 
Flag of the U. States at this place tomorrow as I would prefer being 
sacrificed for doing too much than too little. 

If you consider you have sufficient force or if Fremont will join 
you, you will hoist the Flag of the United States at Yerba Buena or 
any other proper place and take possession in the name of the United 
States, of the Fort, and that portion of the Country. I send you a 
copy of my summons to the Military Commandant of Monterey to 
surrender the place and also my Proclamation to the People of Cali- 
fornia which you will have translated into Spanish and promulgate 
many copies in both languages.^ I have sent a similar letter to Genl. 
Castro with an addition of an invitation for him to meet me at this 
place to enter into a capitulation. 

I will send you a duplicate copy of these documents tomorrow by 
land which I hope will reach you before the boat can get up. You will 
secure the Bay of San Francisco as soon as possible at all events. It is 


my intention to go up to San Francisco as soon as I can leave this 
[place] which I hope will not be many days. 

Mr. Larkin advises that you should not send by Courier anything 
that would do harm to make public and should you have anything 
that you consider important for me to know you can send the 
Launch down again. 

I am very anxious to know if Capt. Fremont will cooperate with 
us. Mr. Larkin is writing to him by the Launch and you will please 
put him in possession of his letter as soon as possible. 

I have not time to write more at present. Very Respectfully Your 
Obdt. Servt. &c. 

John D. Sloat 
Commde. in Chief &c. 

Copy of enclosure 1 in Sloat to George Bancroft, 31 July 1846 (DNA-45, 
Pacific Squadron, Commodore Sloat's Cruise, 1844-46). The letter was sent 
to Montgomery at San Francisco. Commodore John D. Sloat (1781-1867), 
commander of the Pacific Squadron since 1844, had finally arrived at 
Monterey on 2 July and had been briefed on the California situation by 
Larkin. But it was not until after the arrival of the Portsmouth''^ launch 
with letters from Montgomery detailing JCF's cooperation with the Bear 
Flaggers that he decided to make California a part of the United States 
(mc lane, 83). Although Sloat was greatly concerned about his own health 
and turned over his command to Stockton before the month was out, he 
was not put on the reserve list until 1855. 

1. The "Summons" and the "Proclamation" are not printed here but may 
be found in cal. his. soc. docs., 2:352-54. In the latter, which Larkin helped 
compose, Sloat exhibited tact and conciliation. He declared that although he 
came "in arms with a powerfuU force," he came not as an enemy to California 
but as a friend. He assured the "peaceable" inhabitants that they would enjoy 
"the same rights and privileges as the Citizens of any other portion" of the 
nation; pointed out the benefits of a permanent, secure government; and 
guaranteed freedom of religion, security of property, and, to those not dis- 
posed to accept the privileges of U.S. citizenship, the right to move out of the 
country. He also invited the local officials to retain their offices. 

40. Thomas Oliver Larkin to Fremont 

Consulate of the United States of America 
Monterey, California, July 7th, 1846 
Dear Sir 

From the circumstances of the Country of which you will soon be 
informed, you may be induced to send to the States a few men to 


carry despatches, in which case you will please give the Commodore 
[Sloat] and myself timely notice. I by all means recommend it. No 
vessel will, I presume, leave here for Mazatlan under thirty days, 
making 90 to 100 to reach Washington. Even under present circum- 
stances, she may not sail, and if she does, the letters are not safe 
going through Mexico. It is of every importance that letters go to 
our different Departments immediately. You are better aware than 
myself of the time of year, and whether a few men can travel or not. 
Should you not feel justified in detaching the men from your com- 
pany, if it is of service, I will make the demand on you for them. 
The Commodore wishes you at once to cooperate with him under 
the new state of affairs, and inform him immediately, calling on 
Capt. Montgomery for a Launch if you need it, to bring him infor- 
mation of your willingness to do so. By land you can immediately 
send me a Courier with a letter in your handwriting without either 
of our signatures, merely saying you will fall into the plan offered. 
You [will] please shew this to Mr. Gillespie. I am Sir your most 
obdt. servt., 

(Signed) Thomas O. Larkin 
Captain J. C. Fremont 

Copy 38 in Larkin to Secretary of State, 20 July 1846, no. 54 (DNA-59, 
Consular Despatches, Monterey, Calif.). The letter was sent "open" to Com- 
mander John B. Montgomery, who was asked to read, seal, and forward it 

41. John B. Montgomery to Fremont 

U. S. ship Portsmouth 
Yerba Buena, July 9th 1846 

Last evening I was officially notified of the existence of war be- 
tween the United States & the Central Government of Mexico, and 
have this morning taken formal possession of this place, and hoisted 
our Flag in the Town. Commodore Sloat who took possession of 
Monterey on the 7th Inst, has directed me to notify you of this 
change in the political condition of California and to request your 


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presence at Monterey with a view to future arrangements [and] 
co-operation at as early a period as possible. 

I forwarded at two o'clock this morning a despatch from Commo- 
dore Sloat to the Commandant of Sonoma with an American Flag 
for their use should they stand in need of one. 

Mr. Watmough who will hand you this will give you all news. 
Very Respectfully I am Sir, Your Obt. Servt., 

Jno. B. Montgomery 
To Capt. J. C. Fremont 
U. S. Top. Engineers 
Santa Clara. 

Lbk (DNA-45, no. 22, Officers' Letters, Letterbooks of J. B. Montgomery). 
By an order of the same date, purser James H. Watmough of the Portsmouth 
was instructed to proceed to Santa Clara and to San Jose, if necessary, to 
intercept JCF. JCF was at Sutter's Fort when he received the news on the 
evening of 10 July that the American flag was flying over Monterey and 
Yerba Buena. The next morning the Stars and Stripes were raised over 
the fort. 

42. John D. Sloat to Fremont 

Flag-Ship Savannah, Bay of Monterey 

July 9, 1846 

You will, no doubt, have received the information before this that 
I have hoisted the flag of the United States at this place, on the 7th 
instant; as yet all is quiet and no resistance of any kind has been 

I immediately sent to General Castro a copy of my proclamation 
to the inhabitants of California, and a summons to surrender forth- 
with to the American arms the forts, military posts, and stations, un- 
der his command, together with all troops, arms, munitions of war, 
and public property of every description under his control and juris- 
diction, with an invitation for him to meet me immediately at this 
place to enter into articles of capitulation, that himself, officers. 


soldiers, and the inhabitants of California, may receive assurances of 
perfect safety to themselves and property. 

I have this moment learned, by an Englishman just arrived from 
General Castro, at the Pueblo, that General Castro was probably at 
St. John's last evening, and that you would probably be at the Pueblo 
at the same time. 

I have not as yet received any communication from General 

It is thought he will be in to-morrow, or send some communica- 
tion. The Englishman says that when the general read my proclama- 
tion to his troops, he expressed his approbation of it: if he is wise, he 
will make no resistance. 

I have here the frigate Savainmh, of fifty-four guns, the sloops of 
war Cyane and Leva?2t, of twenty-four guns each, armed with 32- 
pounder long guns, 68-pounder shell guns, and 42-pounder carron- 
ades, with a large complement of men, and am every moment in 
expectation of the arrival of the frigate Cofigress, with sixty 32- 
pounder long guns, at this place, and the sloop Erie with long 18's at 
San Francisco.' I am extremely anxious to see you at your earliest 
convenience; and should General Castro consent to enter into a 
capitulation, it is of the utmost importance that you should be pres- 
ent. I hope, therefore, that you will push on with all possible des- 
patch, or, at any rate, let me hear from you immediately. 

Captain Montgomery sent his launch down, which I despatched 
on the 6th, informing him that I should take possession of this place 
on the next day in the name of the United States, and sent him a 
copy of my summons and proclamation, and also orders to take pos- 
session of Yerba Buena and the Bay of San Francisco immediately, 
requesting him to inform you of these facts without delay. I have 
also sent him three couriers with the same orders (in cipher), which 
I have no doubt have reached him, and am confident that the flag of 
the United States is now flying there. 

Although I am in expectation of seeing General Castro, to enter 
into satisfactory terms with him, there may be a necessity of one 
hundred men, well mounted, who are accustomed to riding, to form 
a force to prevent any further robbing of the farmers' houses, &c. 
by the Indians. I request you to bring in as many men up to that 
number with you, or send them on under charge of a trusty person, 
in case you may be delayed for a day or two. Should you find any 


Government horses on the road, please bring them in. Very respect- 
fully, your obedient servant, 

John D. Sloat 
Commander-in-Chief of the U. S. 
Naval Forces in the Pacific Ocean, etc. 
Captain J. D. Fremont. 

Printed in National Intelligencer, 6 Dec. 1847, and memoirs, 530-31. 

1. On the very day Sloat wrote JCF, Castro answered the naval officer's 
summons. "I say to your excellency that for the resolution of affairs of such 
great gravity it is necessary for me to put myself in accord with his excellency 
the Governor and Honorable Assembly of the Department as the legitimate 
authorities which represent the towns which compose it, in the understanding 
that I will defer with pleasure to the opinion of those officials." In addition 
to saying that he must go south to consult with Governor Pico and the As- 
sembly, he wrote that he was resolved "to omit no sacrifice" to preserve the 
integrity and independence of his country as long as he could count on a 
single man "in this cause which is as just as it is national" (Jose Castro to 
Sloat, San Juan Bautista, 9 July 1846, both original and translation in cal. 
HIS. soc. Does., 2:354-55). 

2. As noted earlier, Sloat had arrived at Monterey from Mazatlan in his 
flagship Savannah on 2 July, almost two weeks after the arrival of the Cyane 
(19 June), captained by William Mervine, from the same Mexican port, and 
two days after the Levant (30 June), apparently from Mexico. The Congress, 
sailing from Hawaii with Commodore Stockton aboard, did not anchor in 
Monterey Bay until 15 July, and the storeship Erie put in on 4 Sept. and was 
fitted out as a cruiser. The Portsmouth , under the command of John B. 
Montgomery, had arrived at Monterey about 22 April but in June, at the 
request of Larkin, shifted her anchorage to San Francisco. When Commodore 
Sloat transferred the command of the Pacific Squadron to Stockton on 29 
July, he sailed for home on the Levant. A good account of the U.S. Navy's 
role in the conquest of California is bauer. 

43. Mariano G. Vallejo to Fremont 

[New Helvetia] 
[11 July 1846] 
My respected Sir: 

Yesterday I had the pleasure of having received word from one of 
your officers that today we would have a meeting for which I have 
been eagerly waiting for the whole day, but the day being almost 
over, I fear that you will not have time, and both to calm the restless- 
ness of the gentlemen who share my jail and for my own satisfaction, 



I wish that you would let us know if our imprisonment, which has 
been aggravated by a complete incommunicado since last June 16, 
has ended. I do not have to tell you about the way in which we have 
been deprived of our freedom because you know about it, but the na- 
tional flag of North America that today is waving over this fortress 
suggests to me that the change has already taken place and a pros- 
perous future is in store for this country to whose destiny I cannot 
be indifferent. Therefore today I was delighted that you have issued 
the proclamation which was probably published when the flag 
that changes the destiny of California was raised high, and that it is 
bound to have a direct influence over those of us, whose deep-down 
conviction is that the state of the nation cannot be worse than the 
state in which it was before the change. 

[No signature] 

Copy in Spanish (CU-B). The editors wish to thank Mrs. Sara de Mundo 
Lo, University of lUinois Library, for translating this document and Doc. 
Nos. 142 and 163. 

Vallejo was being detained at Sutter's Fort by order of JCF. 

44. Thomas Oliver Larkin to Fremont 

Consulate of the United States of America 
Monterey, California, July 12th, 1846 

From the route you have taken I presume you did not receive my 
last letter (of this past week).^ Commodore Sloat is very anxious to 
see you, waiting for your cooperation. I have given him to under- 
stand that jointly with you, his business will become light in com- 
parison to what he now has on hand. I presume you to have entered 
the Pueblo [San Jose] today. The Como. wishes you to reach Mon- 
terey with all the men you can bring, or with a few come in, and 
have the others follow directly. He wants to form a Company under 
pay to cut off the horse stealing, crimes in general throughout the 
Country that requires a force or bear arms against any body of 
soldiers who may be met to fight him. General Castro has wrote to 
the Como. that he must go South to see the Governor & Assembly." 
I hope they settle the business peaceably. You can promise men to 


take up arms in the name of the United States at fifteen or twenty 
dollars per month. They can in a great measure choose their own 
officers. Should you be able to purchase any horses or saddles before 
you come in, funds are here for payment. 

I strongly recommend a few of your former men to carry home 
despatches. Of this more when we meet. Hoping to see you tomor- 
row I am your most obedient servant, 

(Signed) Thomas O. Larkin 
Captain J. C. Fremont 

Printed in larkin, 5:129-30. 

1. Our Doc. No. 40. 

2. See p. 170, n. 1. 

45. Fremont to Edward M. Kern 

Dear Sir, 

American Fork, July 12. 46 

Without regard to any order that you may receive in my absence, 
you will retain Messrs. Vallejo, Preuxdon [Prudon], Leese, and 
Carillo^ at the fort, of which you are hereby placed in full command. 
I will probably see you again in 10 days, when we will make prepar- 
ations for our homeward voyage. Iron and confine any person who 
shall disobey your orders — shoot any person who shall endanger the 
safety of the place. Respectfully, Yrs. 

J. C. Fremont 

I leave Jean Droil [Francois Gendreau]" in charge of my cavallada 
\caballada\ and of the cattle. He will be at or near Perry's house.^ 
Send vaqueros to him when you want a beef. J.C.F. 

ALS, RC (CSmH). Addressed, "Mr. Kearne, Commandr. Fort Sacra- 

1. Seeking information about the imprisonment of his brother-in-law, 
Mariano G. Vallejo, Julio Carrillo had arrived at Sutter's Fort in the latter 
part of June. And although Lieut. John S. Missroon at Sonoma had given 
him a passport to and from the fort, Edward Kern refused to allow him to 
leave. He had been forced to join the ranks of the prisoners, who now in- 
cluded not only Robert Ridley and those taken at Sonoma but also Jose 
Noriega and Vicente Peralta, who had stopped at the fort on 20 June. It was 


not until 3 Aug. that Carrillo and Mariano G. Vallejo were released and not 
until 8 Aug. that Salvador Vallejo, Prudon, Leese, Ridley, Noriega, and 
Peralta were paroled. This was largely due to the solicitation of Larkin and 
to naval orders — not to any order of JCF's (tays [3], 17:224-29). Later the 
Spanish vice-consul at Santa Barbara sought reparation from the U.S. govern- 
ment for the unjust imprisonment suffered by Noriega through the orders of 
JCF (see correspondence between R. B. Mason and Cesareo Lataillade, House 
Exec. Doc. 17, pp. 427, 430, 31st Cong., 1st sess.. Serial 573). A document in 
CSmH, dated Fort Sacramento, 11 July 1846, and appearing to be a parole of 
V^icente Peralta, Jose Noriega, and others, seems merely to express the wishful 
thinking on the part of the prisoners that they be released. 

2. Francois Gendreau's name appears in JCF's financial vouchers as Francois 
Jeandreau and in other California records as Gendran, Gendron, Geandreau, 
and even Jondro. He was a Canadian with a Walla Walla Indian wife. 
Gendreau was an employee of Sutter's, and he later commanded the com- 
pany of Walla Wallas organized by Sutter for JCF's southern campaign 
in the winter of 1846 (see Fremont to Kern, 20 Nov. 1846 [Doc. No. 90], 
and DILLON, 254). 

3. Probably Perry McCoon (d. 1851), a former sailor in the British Navy 
who had worked at Sutter's Fort. In 1845 he moved to a farm of his own 
nearby (new Helvetia diary, 38, 43; pioneer register). 

46. Robert F. Stockton to Fremont 


[22 July 1846] 

1st. Capt. Fremont and Lieut. Gillespie will, in a letter addressed 
to me, volunteer, for themselves and the men with them, to serve 
under my command as long as I may be in possession of California 
and desire their services. 

2d. They may increase the number of their forces to 300 men. 

3d. Their men must all be enlisted, and put under the military 
laws of the United States in every respect. 

4th. The men may receive ten dollars a month, besides their ra- 

5th. All their supplies, such as tobacco, &c., will be charged to 

R. F. Stockton 

Printed in National Intelligencer, 6 Dec. 1847. This was one of the docu- 
ments presented to the court on 3 Dec. 1847 in the trial of JCF for mutiny, 
disobedience, and conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline, but it 
was not printed in the official proceedings. 


Robert Field Stockton. From a daguerreotype of the Chicago 

Historical Society. 


Robert Field Stockton (1795-1866) had arrived on the Congress at 
Monterey on 15 July and had been appointed commander-in-chief of all 
forces and operations on land in California by Commodore Sloat. He had 
superintended the construction of the first propeller-driven warship — the 
Princeton — and commanded it for two years. More than a naval officer, 
Stockton was an influential businessman and wealthy landowner from New 
Jersey with a reputation for flamboyant, unconventional, and adventurous ac- 
tion — in a sense the prototype of the aggressive American nationalist of 
the 1830s and 1840s. 

Larkin suspected that Stockton was sent to California for a special reason. 
To Abel Stearns in Los Angeles on 24 May he had written, "I look daily 
for Com. Robert Stockton in the Congress, who left Norfolk, October 30. . . . 
He is a man worth from 25 to 30,000 dollars, per year, with yet larger ex- 
pectations. In the Clay and Polk canvass of 1844, I understand he spent 
20,000 dollars in the New Jersey election. . . . Com. Stockton was called to 
Washington a day or two before he sailed. He is a man I believe much in the 
confidence of Mr. Polk. I believe that Emigration will exceed one thousand 
this year, perhaps two. . . . Now when you understand all this, and see the 
signs of the times, knowing what we do of this and affairs here, what object 
can you suppose a Commodore of Capt. Stockton's wealth rank and prospects 
had in leaving all, and coming to the North Pacific. Hardly to take charge of 
a squadron to see to Whalers and some merchants ships" (larkin, 4:391-92). 
A few days later, over the signature "Paisano," Larkin wrote Moses Yale 
Beach & Sons of the New York Sun about the ball which the Portsmouth 
had given for the native inhabitants and added, "The Portsmouth now gentle 
lays at here a[n"|chorage waitifn]g for the Commodore [i.e., Stockton] who will 
on his arrival give a Ball of some discription or other according to the finale 
of Mr. Slidel & mission last Feb & March in the 'gran Capital.' Be his Ball 
and party as it may, it will end pleasantly and to the satisfaction of many as 
they can not long endure the present state of self government" (larkin, 

On 31 May Larkin informed Gillespie that Stockton could hardly be in 
Monterey harbor before 15 or 20 June — as though to warn him and JCF 
not to move too quickly (larkin, 4:407-9). 

Soon after the Mexican War, Stockton resigned from the Navy and as New 
Jersey's Democratic senator entered Congress, where he urged various naval 
reforms, including the abolition of flogging. For more details on his life, see 
STOCKTON and price. 

1. As ten days had elapsed since JCF penned Doc. No. 45 to Kern, a 
resume of his activities may be helpful in putting the present document into 

On 12 July JCF had left the American River for Monterey, going by way 
of the San Joaquin Valley and crossing the mountains to the Mission San 
Juan Bautista. Arriving there on 17 July, he was joined by Archibald 
Gillespie, who brought the happy news that Commodore Stockton had ar- 
rived. But he also brought the less felicitous tidings that Sloat was disturbed 
over the lack of knowledge of the authority under which the Marine 
lieutenant and JCF were operating. JCF left a small detachment to garrison 
San Juan and proceeded with 160 or 170 men to Monterey, which he reached 
on 19 July. Accompanied by Gillespie, JCF went on board the Savannah for 
an interview with Sloat. Regarding this meeting, Gillespie reported to the 
Secretary of the Navy, "Commodore Sloat ... did not express himself as 


satisfied with either of us, and appeared extremely distressed at the thought 
of responsibility in any way connected with ourselves. Commodore Sloat up 
to this moment has not recognized the operations or the command of Cap't 
Fremont, and at our late interview, required that a letter should be addressed 
to him by Cap't Fremont, showing by what authority we were in the country, 
and under what orders we had been acting. This letter has not been written, 
and very fortunately and to save all difficulty. Commodore Sloat gave the 
command of all operations on shore to Commodore Stockton, which circum- 
stances has inspired confidence in the volunteers, and already given a new 
aspect to the position of affairs in this quarter" (Gillespie to Secretary of the 
Navy, 25 July 1846, ames [1], 277-78). In testimony in 1848 before the sub- 
committee of the Senate Military Affairs Committee considering the Cali- 
fornia Claims, JCF stated that he had told Sloat that he was acting on his 
own responsibility and without written authority from the government to 
justify hostilities — a view which was reiterated in the Memoirs and in a 
Century magazine article (California Claims, Senate Report 75, p. 113, 30th 
Cong., 1st sess.. Serial 512; memoirs, 534; "The Conquest of California," 
Century, n.s.. vol. 19 [1890-91]). 

As soon as Sloat had appointed Stockton commander-in-chief of all forces 
and operations on land, Stockton took JCF and his troops into the service of 
the United States as the "Battalion of California Volunteers." However, the 
official muster rolls of the California Battalion, made later, show 7 July 1846 
as the date of entry into service for those who had been in JCF's battalion 
on that date. This was the date on which Sloat occupied Monterey (rogers 

Gillespie and JCF must have breathed further sighs of relief when Sloat, 
in poor health, sailed on 29 July in the Levant for the United States, leaving 
the vigorous and aggressive Stockton in command of the Pacific Squadron. 

47. Robert F. Stockton to Fremont 

U. S. Frigate Congress 
Bay of Monterey, July 23, 1846 

You are hereby appointed to the command of the California bat- 
talion of United States troops, with the rank of major. Respectfully, 
your obedient servant, 

R. F. Stockton 
Commander-in-chief, &c. 
To Major Fremont, 
Commanding California battalion 

Printed in Message of the President of the United States, Communicating 
the Proceedings of the Court Martial in the Trial of Lieutenant Colonel 
Fremont, Senate Exec. Doc. 33, p. 175, 30th Cong., 1st sess.. Serial 507. 


Hereafter, this document will be cited as ct. martial. And since the supple- 
ment to the present volume of The Expeditions of John Charles Fremont is 
a facsimile edition of the government document, all references to ex. martial 
are also references to it. 

48. Robert F. Stockton to Fremont 

United States Frigate Congress, 
Monterey Bay, July 23, 1846. 

You will please to embark on board the United States ship Cyane,^ 
with the detachment of troops under my command, on Saturday 

The ship, at daylight on Sunday morning, will sail for San Diego, 
where you will disembark your troops and procure horses for them, 
and will make every necessary preparation to march through the 
country at a moment's notice for me.^ 

'You will endeavor to encamp so near San Diego as to have a daily 
communication with the Cyane, which will remain at anchor there, 
until you receive orders to march. 

The object of this movement is to take, or to get between, the 
Colorado and General Castro. 

I will leave Monterey in this ship for San Pedro, so as to arrive 
there about the time that you may be expected to have arrived at 
San Diego.^ 

I will despatch a courier to you from San Pedro, to inform you of 
my movements. Faithfully, your obedient servant, 

R. F. Stockton 
Commodore, &c. 
Captain Fremont, 
United States army. 

Copy of enclosure 11 in Stockton to George Bancroft, 22 Aug. 1846 
(DNA-45, Pacific Squadron, Commodore Stockton, 1846-47). Also in "The 
Report of the Secretary of the Navy," 5 Dec. 1846, which formed a part of 
the Message of the President of the United States to the Two Houses of 
Congress, 8 Dec. 1846, House Exec. Doc. 4, p. 674, 29th Cong., 2nd sess., 
Serial 497. 

1. On this same day Samuel F. DuPont had been ordered by Stockton to 
relieve Capt. William Mervine as commander of the twenty-gun sloop 
Cyane. Mervine was assigned to the frigate Savannah (du font, 34-35). 


2. When the ship sailed on 26 July, she had, in addition to her own crew 
of 120, about 165 battalion men with saddles and packs but no horses. 

3. Larkin wrote Buchanan on 29 July that he was to go south with 
Stockton "for the purpose of seeking a personal interview with the Gov- 
ernour and Legislature of California with the view of entering into some 
arrangement with them as the constitutional authorities of the country to 
settle the present state of affairs around us. This once done the people will 
become calm and submit to the existing state of things lately brought about" 
(larkin, 5:180-82). Through Abel Stearns, one of the more influential 
Americans in Los Angeles, Larkin urged the local civil and military officers 
to form a government under Stockton's authority. When his efforts failed, 
perhaps because Stockton desired them to fail, Larkin wrote Stearns from the 
Congress, 7 Aug., "You will bear in mind that I have done all I could to 
prevent the visit of 800 soldiers to your city and to avert the evils that must 
necessully attend a Campagn by such men thorg [through?] the country from 
St D. to the Sacramento. The Commo intends to proceed at once to hostilities 
and deal with this department as a part of R. Mexico" (larkin, 5:187). 

49. Thomas Oliver Larkin to Fremont 

Consulate of the United States of America 
Monterey California July 24th 1846 

By verbal orders of Commodore John D Sloat, I wrote you on the 
7th and 12th instant on certain affairs. Since your arrival in Mon- 
terey you have verbally informed me that you did not receive the 
letter of the 12th and you have not sent me any Official answer to 
either. Commodore Sloat has since informed me verbally that he has 
concluded not to keep up the cavalry, nor any other force for the 
interiour of the Country, and therefore will not act on the subject of 
mv letters. 

Therefore as I have acted only on verbal orders, you will please 
consider all requests or instructions of mine in any former letters I 
have written to you as countermanded and not to be further acted on 
from this date. I am Sir with great respect. Yours very Truly, 

(Signed) Thomas O. Larkin 
Captain }. C. Fremont 
United States Army, Monterey 

Printed in larkin, 5:158. 


50. Fremont to William A. Leidesdorfl 

Carmel, July 24. 1846 
Dear Sir, 

I have shipped to your address by ship Sterling, Capt. [George W,] 
Vincent, a box marked with my name and containing property be-, 
longing to Mr. Knight.^ You will much oblige me by paying charges 
and forwarding the same by an early opportunity to New Helvetia, 
consigned to Mr. Edd. Kerne, commdg. at Fort Sacramento. Very 
Respectfully Your Obedt. Servt. 

J. C. Fremont 

Capt. Leidesdorfl 

U.S. Consul at Yerba Buena 

ALS, RC (CU-B). Addressed; endorsed. 

1. William Knight (d. 1849), a settler on the Sacramento, had taken an 
active part in the Bear Flag Revolt. He had come to California in 1841 in the 
Workman-Rowland party from New Mexico (pioneer register). 

51. Fremont to Archibald H. Gillespie 

Carmel, July 25 [1846] 
Dr. Sir, 

The new arrangement is of course corriente [in operation], and 
the camp will be held in readiness to move at 3 in the morning. 
Very respectfully, 

J. C. Fremont 
U. S. Army 
Capt. Archibald Gillespie 
Adjt., Cal. Battn. 

ALS, RC (Eleutherian Mills Historical Society Library, Greenville, Del). 
Addressed to Gillespie at Monterey. Endorsed: "All right! Countermand the 
Boats 'til Sunrise tomorrow. A. H. G." 


52. Fremont to Thomas H. Benton 

Mission of Carmel, July 25, 1846 
My Dear Sir: 

When Mr. Gillespie overtook me in the middle of May, we were 
encamped on the northern shore of the greater Tlamath Lake. Snow 
was falling steadily and heavily in the mountains, which entirely 
surround and dominate the elevated valley region into which we 
had penetrated ; in the east, and north, and west, barriers absolutely 
impassable barred our road; we had no provisions; our animals were 
already feeble, and while any other way was open, I could not bring 
myself to attempt such a doubtful enterprise as a passage of these 
unknown mountains in the dead of winter.^ Every day the snow was 
falling; and in the face of the depressing influence exercised on the 
people by the loss of our men, and the unpromising appearance of 
things, I judged it inexpedient to pursue our journey further in this 
direction, and determined to retrace my steps, and carry out the 
views of the Government by reaching the frontier on the line of the 
Colorado river. I had scarcely reached the lower Sacramento, when 
General Castro, then in the north (at Sonoma, in the Department of 
Sonoma, north of the bay of San Francisco, commanded by General 
Vallejo), declared his determination immediately to proceed against 
me, and after defeating me to proceed against the foreigners settled 
in the country, for whose expulsion an order had just been issued by 
the Governor of the Californias." For these purposes Castro immedi- 
ately assembled a force at the Mission of Santa Clara, a strong place, 
on the northern shore of the Francisco Bay. You will remember how 
grossly outraged and insulted we had already been by this officer; 
many in my own camp, and throughout the country, thought that I 
should not have retreated in March last. I felt humiliated and hum- 
bled; one of the main objects proposed by this expedition had been 
entirely defeated, and it was the opinion of the officers of the squad- 
ron (so I was informed by Mr. Gillespie) that I could not again 
retreat consistently with any military reputation. Unable to procure 
supplies elsewhere, I had sent by Mr. Gillespie to Captain Mont- 
gomery, commanding the United States ship of war Portsmouth, 
then lying at Monterey, a small requisition for such supplies as were 
indispensably necessary to leave the valley; and my animals were 
now in such a state that I could not get out of the valley, without 


reaching the country which Hes on the east side of them in an en- 
tirely destitute condition. Having carefully examined my position, 
and foreseeing, I think, clearly, all the consequences which may 
eventuate to me from such a step, I determined to take such active 
and anticipatory measures as should seem to me most expedient to 
protect my party and justify my own character. I was well aware of 
the grave responsibility which I assumed, but I also determined that, 
having once decided to do so, I would assume it and its consequences 
fully and entirely, and go through with the business completely to 
the end. I regret that, by a sudden emergency, I have only an hour 
for writing to all friends, and that therefore from the absence of de- 
tail, what I say to you will not be clearly understood. 

Castro's first measure was an attempt to incite the Indian popula- 
tion of the Joaquin and Sacramento valleys, and the neighboring 
mountains, to burn the crops of the foreigners and otherwise pro- 
ceed immediately against them. These Indians are extremely numer- 
ous, and the success of his measure would have been very destruc- 
tive; but he failed entirely. On the 6th of June I decided on the 
course which I would pursue, and immediately concerted my opera- 
tions with the foreigners inhabiting the Sacramento valley. A few 
days afterwards, one of Castro's officers, with a party of 14 men, at- 
tempted to pass a drove of two hundred horses from Sonoma to 
Santa Clara, via New Helvetia, with the avowed purpose of bringing 
troops into the country. On the 11th they were surprised at daylight 
on the Consumne River by a party of 12 from my camp. The horses 
were taken, but they were (the men) dismissed without injury. At 
daybreak on the 15th, the military fort of Sonoma was taken by sur- 
prise, with 9 brass pieces of artillery, 250 stands of muskets, some 
other arms, and a quantity of ammunition. General Vallejo, his 
brother (Captain Vallejo), Colonel Greuxdon [Prudon], and some 
others were taken prisoners, and placed at New Helvetia, a fortified 
post under my command. In the meantime a launch had reached 
New Helvetia with stores from the ship Portsmouth, now lying at 
Yerba Buena, on Francisco Bay. News of General Castro's proceed- 
ings against me in March had reached Commodore Sloat at Mazat- 
lan at the end of that month, and he had immediately despatched 
the ship Portsmouth to Monterey, with general instructions to pro- 
tect American interests in California. 

These enterprises accomplished I proceeded to the American set- 


dements on the Sacramento, and the Rio de los Americanos, to ob- 
tain reinforcements of men and rifles. 

The information brought by Mr. Gillespie to Captain Mont- 
gomery, in relation to my position, induced that officer immediately 
to proceed to Yerba Buena, whence he despatched his launch to me. 
I immediately wrote to him, by return of the boat, describing to him 
fully my position and intentions,^ in order that he might not, by 
supposing me to be acting under orders from our Government, un- 
wittingly commit himself in affording me other than such assistance 
as his instructions would authorize him naturally to offer an officer 
charged with an important public duty; or, in fine, to any citizen of 
the United States. 

Information having reached me from the commanding officer at 
Sonoma, that his post was threatened with an attack by a force un- 
der General Castro, I raised camp on the American Fork on the 
afternoon of the 23rd, and, accompanied by Mr. Gillespie, at two in 
the morning of the 25th reached Sonoma, with ninety mounted 
riflemen, having marched eighty miles. Our people still held the 
place, only one division of Castro's force, a squadron of cavalry, 
numbering seventy men, and commanded by Joaquin de la Torre 
(one of his best officers), having succeeded in crossing the straits 
(Francisco Bay). This force had attacked an advance party of twenty 
Americans, and (was) defeated with the loss of two killed and two 
or three wounded. The Americans lost none. This was an unex- 
pected check to the Californians, who had announced their inten- 
tions to defeat our people without firing a gun; to beat out their 
brains with their "tapaderos," and destroy them "con cuchillos 
puros."^ They were led to use this expression from the circumstances 
that a few days previously they had captured two of our men (an 
express), and after wounding, had bound them to trees, and cut 
them to pieces while alive, with an exaggeration of cruelty which 
only Indians would be capable of.^ In a few days de la Torre was 
driven from the country, having barely succeeded in effecting his 
escape across the straits, the guns (six large and handsome pieces) 
spiked at the fort on the south side of the entrance to Francisco bay, 
and the communication with the opposite side entirely broken off, 
the boats and launches being either destroyed or in our possession. 
Three of Castro's party having landed on the Sonoma side in ad- 
vance, were killed on the beach ;" and beyond this there was no loss 


on either side. In all these proceedings, Mr. Gillespie has acted with 
me. We reached Sonoma again on the evening of July 4th, and in 
the morning I called the people together, and spoke to them in rela- 
tion to the position of the country, advising a course of operations 
which was unanimously adopted. California was declared indepen- 
dent, the country put under martial law, the force organized and 
officers elected. A pledge, binding themselves to support these mea- 
sures, and to obey their officers, was signed by those present. The 
whole was placed under my direction. Several officers from the 
Portsmouth were present at this meeting. Leaving Captain Griggsby 
[Grigsby]' with fifty men in command of Sonoma, I left that place 
on the 6th, and reached my encampment on the American Fork in 
three days. Before we arrived at that place. General Castro had 
evacuated Santa Clara, which he had been engaged in fortifying, 
and with a force of about four hundred men, and two pieces of artil- 
lery, commenced his retreat upon St. John's, a fortified post, having 
eight pieces of artillery, principally brass. On the evening of the 10th 
we were electrified by the arrival of an express from Captain Mont- 
gomery, with the information that Commodore Sloat had hoisted 
the flag of the United States at Monterey, and taken possession of 
the country. Captain Montgomery had hoisted the flag at Yerba 
Buena, and sent one to Sonoma, to be hoisted at that place. One also 
was sent to the officer commanding at New Helvetia, requesting that 
it might be hoisted at his post. 

Independence and the flag of the United States are synonymous 
terms to the foreigners here (the northern, which is the stronger 
part, particularly), and accordingly I directed the flag to be hoisted 
with a salute the next morning. The event produced great rejoicing 
among our people. The next day I received an express from Com- 
modore Sloat, transmitting to me his proclamation, and directing 
me to proceed with the force under my orders to Monterey. The reg- 
istered force actually in arms, and under my orders, numbered two 
hundred and twenty riflemen, with one piece of field artillery, and 
ten men, in addition to the artillery of the garrison. We were on the 
eve of marching on Castro when this intelligence arrived; accord- 
ingly, I directed my march upon Monterey, where I arrived on the 
evening of the 19th, with a command of one hundred and sixty 
mounted riflemen and one piece of artillery. I found also there Com- 
modore Stockton in command of the frigate Congress, and Admiral 
Seymour, in command of her Britannic Majesty's ship Collingwood, 


of 80 guns.* I have been badly interrupted, and shall scarcely be able 
to put you in full possession of occurrences. 

To come briefly to a conclusion, Commodore Sloat has transferred 
the squadron, with California and its apurtenances, into the hands 
of Commodore Stockton, who has resolved to make good the posses- 
sion of California. This officer approves entirely of the course pursued 
by myself and Mr. Gillespie, who, I repeat, has been hand-in- 
hand with me in this business. I received this morning from Com- 
modore Stockton a commission of major in the United States army, 
retaining command of my battalion, to which a force of eight ma- 
rines will be attached. We are under orders to embark to-morrow 
morning on board the Cyane sloop of war, and will disembark at 
San Diego, immediately in the rear of Castro. He is now at the 
Pueblo de los Angeles, an interior city, with a force of about 500 
men, supposed to be increasing. The design is to attack him with my 
force at that place. He has there seven or eight pieces of artillery. 

Commodore Sloat, who goes home by way of Panama, promises 
to hand or send you this immediately on his arrival at Washington, 
to which he goes direct. It is my intention to leave this country, if it 
is within the bounds of possibility, at the end of August. I could 
then succeed in crossing the Rocky Mountains ; later it would not be 
possible, on account of the snow ; and by that time a territorial Gov- 
ernment will be in operation here. Yours, very truly, 

}. C. Fremont 
Hon. Thomas H. Benton 
United States Senate, Washington 

Printed in National Intelligencer, 11 Nov. 1846; also in Washington Daily 
Union, 9 Nov. 1846, and memoirs, 545-47. Benton actually laid the private 
letter before the president "in the absence of official information on the sub- 
ject of Lieutenant Colonel (then Captain) Fremont's operations in Upper 
California" to show the "unwilling manner in which he became involved in 
hostilities with the Mexican authorities of that province, before he had heard 
of the war with Mexico . . . and especially to disprove the accusation made 
officially against him by Governor Castro, of having come into California 
with a body of United States troops, under the pretext of a scientific expedi- 
tion, but in reality to excite the Americans settled in that province to an in- 
surrection against the Mexican Government." 

1. For a man who had crossed the Sierra in Feb. 1844, JCF seems to be 
overemphasizing the problems of snow in the Oregon mountains in mid-May. 
He had not mentioned snow in his letter of 24 May to Benton. 

2. On 30 April 1846 the subprefect of San Francisco had given the Ameri- 
can vice-consul there a copy of an order which he had received from the 
prefect of Monterey. Noting that many strangers had purchased land, Manuel 


Castro wrote that he had "concluded to order all Justices of towns under 
their charge, that they cannot under the most strong responsability, permit 
nor authorize sale or cession whatever of land or of said class of property, 
without regulation by right, and in favour of Mexican citizens, advising 
those foreigners that are not naturalized and legally introduced, that whatever 
purchase or acquisition they make will be null and void, and will be subject 
(if they do not retire voluntarily from the country) to be expelled from it 
whenever the government finds it convenient" (Francisco Guerrero y Palor- 
mares to William Leidesdorff, 30 April 1846, larkin, 4:354). While this 
order does not seem to be retroactive, but merely sets a policy for the imme- 
diate future, there were various rumors of possible expulsion. In a circular 
Larkin noted, "From April to June the foreigners in the Sacramento Valley, 
were continually harassed by verbal reports & written proclamations, that 
they must leave California" (Larkin to "Several Americans," 8 July 1846, 
LARKIN, 5:119-21). Several months earlier he had reported to the Secretary 
of State that "General Castro is now thinking of taking up to the Sacra- 
mento in July, some two or three hundred men, with the ostensible purpose 
of opposing the Emigrants expected. Yet it can hardly be supposed he is in 
earnest in his intention. Should he be, he only hastens the crisis" (17 April 
1846, DNA-59, no. 42, Consular Despatches, Monterey, Calif.). The expulsion 
of American settlers would probably have been impossible, even if it had 
been genuinely contemplated. However, the Mexican authorities did consider 
the idea of acquiring Sutter's Fort as a barrier against American immigration 
(dillon, 236). 

3. See Fremont to Montgomery, 16 June 1846, Doc. No. 34. 

4. Le., to beat out their brains with the leather stirrup covers of the Mexican 
saddles and destroy them simply with knives. 

5. The slain men were George Fowler and Thomas Cowie. 

6. JCF is referring to the shooting of Francisco and Ramon de Haro, twin 
brothers from San Francisco, and their uncle, Jose de los Reyes Berreyesa, an 
old ranchman from Santa Clara, by Kit Carson, Granville P. Swift, and 
Neal (probably John Neal) after they were captured at the embarcadero in 
San Rafael. Talbot gave no details when he wrote his mother, "We killed 3 
spies here [San Rafael] from the main force across an arm of the bay of San 
Pablo" (Talbot to Adelaide Talbot, 24 July 1846, DLC— Talbot Papers). 
After talking with John Sears in Sonoma in Sept. 1846, Marius Duvall, the 
assistant surgeon on board the Portsmouth, rejected the Carson-Swift-Neal 
allegation that the three Californian victims carried orders from Castro 
directing Joaquin de la Torre to slaughter foreigners without distinction of 
sex or age. He was convinced that the blood of these men was on the con- 
science of JCF, who, he was persuaded, had given covert orders not to take 
prisoners (duvall, 53-54). Richard B. Mason, military governor of California, 
wrote Col. Jonathan D. Stevenson, "I have been told that Carson was of or 
commanded the party that went to meet them, and upon starting, asked 
what orders he had to give, to which F. replied, 'You know the orders, we 
want no prisoners, or we cannot take care of prisoners' or words to that 
effect. The party darted off and soon met and shot down an old man & two 
boys, they being unarmed. This is as I hear the story, and I should like to 
know Carson's version of it" (Mason to Stevenson, Monterey, 28 Feb. 1848, 
CLU — J. D. Stevenson Papers). 

JCF's degree of responsibility for the atrocity was to become an issue in the 
presidential campaign of 1856. Alexander Godey wrote a letter to John 


O. Wheeler defending JCF and claiming that Carson had shot the Cali- 
fornians when they resisted arrest (12 Sept. 1856, hafen & hafen, 263-75). 
Gillespie, however, charged that the men were deliberately shot in cold 
blood. He did not say that JCF gave the orders, but that after the deed was 
done, JCF commented "It is well!!!" and let the bodies lie on the ground all 
night ( [1856] memorandum, CLU — Gillespie Papers). 

In his MEMOIRS, 525, JCF justified the execution on the grounds that it was 
in retaliation for the brutal killing of Cowie and Fowler, and he attributed the 
deed to his scouts, "mainly Delawares." Kern wrote home to his brother that 
the butchering of Cowie and Fowler had "produced an order from our side 
to take no more prisoners" (Edward M. Kern to Richard H. Kern, Fort 
Sacramento, 27 July 1846, CSmH). 

7. Tennessean John Grigsby (ca. 1806-76), who had been one of the most 
active in fomenting the Bear Flag Revolt, had come to California in 1845 
with William B. Ide. After the California Battalion was reorganized in Nov. 
1846 for the southern campaign, Grigsby commanded Company E. 

8. Commander of the British Pacific Squadron, Rear Adm. Sir George F. 
Seymour had been on his flagship at Mazatlan while Sloat was there. The 
Collingwood arrived in Monterey the day after Stockton and stayed a week, 
fitting new spars. JCF and his supporters were wont to say that their prompt 
cooperation with the Bear Flaggers spurred Sloat into action and thus averted 
any scheme the British might have had for establishing a protectorate over 

53. Fremont to Samuel F. DuPont 

S. Diego, Aug. 3d. 1846 
My Dear Sm, 

One of Mr. Bandini's^ servants, Pedro, I am told, goes in your 
launch.- Will you do me the favor to direct him to use much pre- 
caution with the accompanying letter and give it into the hands only 
of D. Alejandro[ ?]^ himself.-^ Very respectfully, 

J. C. Fremont 

Capt. Dupont 
Ship Cyane 

ALS, RC (Eleutherian Mills Historical Society Library, Greenville, Del.). 
Addressed to DuPont at San Diego. On 26 July JCF and his men sailed south 
from Monterey on the Cyane, captained by Samuel F. DuPont, to cut ofT the 
escape of General Castro. They reached San Diego on 29 July, where they 
took possession and raised the American flag without a shot being fired 
against them. For a description of the occupation, see dupont, 34-35. 

1. Juan Bandini (1800-1859), born and educated in Lima, Peru, came to 
California as a young man and soon became engaged, sometimes unwisely, 
in politics, holding various offices. At the time of Stockton's move on Los 
Angeles in Aug. 1846, Bandini was Governor Pico's secretary and a member 


of the Assembly, but he soon espoused the American cause and with Don 
Santiago E. Argiiello aided JCF in procuring horses and suppUes, deeds which 
caused him to be viewed as a traitor by Pico (memoirs, 563-65). 

2. The Cyane's launch was sent to San Pedro to report the capture of San 
Diego to Commodore Stockton. 

3. The "accompanying letter" for D. Alejandro has not been found. D. 
Alejandro could possibly be David W. Alexander, whom Captain DuPont 
made collector of the port of San Pedro on 17 Aug. 1846. He was likewise 
appointed to that position by JCF in 1847. 

54. Robert F. Stockton to Fremont 

U. S. Frigate Congress 

Bay of San Pedro 

August 6th. 1846 

Thursday night 


I have to inform you that on my arrival here this morning I 
learned that Alvarado left the Pueblo [Los Angeles] on Sunday 
morning with 50 men, and that Castro marched on Wednesday with 
the remainder of their forces, amounting in all to about 250 men. 

They say that they have gone to a place called Allamitos [Alami- 
tos],^ eight leagues south east of Pueblo. If this be true, they must 
be about half way between us. I will get as near to him as I can 
without horses. I can not of course chase him. I must try to intercept 
him, on his retreat before you. 

I will probably be encamped at Temple's Farm," which is about 
midway between this and Pueblo on the main road on Wednesday 
night, where I will await your arrival that we may march into Pue- 
blo together. 

If therefore you are prepared in every respect to march against 
Castro, you will join me with your forces at Temple's Farm, as soon 
as you can. 

If you are not so prepared you had better embark on board the 
Cyane and join me by the way of San Pedro. 

If you should have good reason to believe that Castro has gone in a 
different direction, and especially if he attempts to get to the south- 
ward of you, you are at liberty to exercise your own judgment, 


whether it will be better for you to pursue him, or to join me. Faith- 
fully, Yr. obdt. servt., 

R, F, Stockton 
Commander in chief &c. &c. 
To Major Fremont 
Commanding California Battalion 
St. Diego 

P. S. Since writing the above, I have intercepted a letter signed by 
Pico and Castro, brothers of the General and Governor, I believe, 
brought this evening by a courier from Pueblo, written it would 
seem in answer to one written by a Californian officer on shore here 
announcing my arrival, in which this officer is desired to keep a 
lookout on the movements of the enemy. 

"Allamitos" I understand is a Ranch. The last news is that Castro's 
men are daily leaving him, and that they are very badly equipped.^ 

Lbk (DNA-45, Entry 395 [E-20-A], Letterbook of Robert F. Stockton, 
1846-47). The letter was brought to San Diego by the Cyane's launch. 

On 1 Aug., three days after JCF had landed at San Diego. Stockton sailed 
from Monterey with 360 Marines and seamen aboard the Congress. Going 
south with Stockton was Larkin, who hoped to work through influential 
Americans in Los Angeles to get the Mexican civil and military officers to 
raise the American flag and form a government under Stockton's authority. 
Stockton touched at Santa Barbara on 4 Aug., ran up the U.S. flag, and left 
a small garrison in charge. As this letter indicates, he was in San Pedro two 
days later. 

1. Los Alamitos was owned by Abel Stearns. It had been a part of the 
large grant made to Manuel Nieto in 1784, originally including all the land 
lying between the Santa Ana and San Gabriel rivers from the mountains to 
the sea (r. g. cowan; abeloe, 151). 

2. Stockton is probably referring to John Temple's land and adobe man- 
sion, built in 1844, in the vicinity of present Long Beach. It, too, had been a 
part of the old Nieto grant. John Temple (1798-1866), an energetic Massa- 
chusetts Yankee who had come to California in 1827, acquired Los Cerritos 
through marriage and purchase. Success attended most of his ventures in Los 
Angeles. He opened the first general store, had the first market, and with 
his brother, Francis Pliny F., was the builder of the first office structure — 
Temple Block (abeloe, 151-52). 

3. BANCROFT, 5:261-66, notes that Castro and Pico had scarcely been able to 
raise 200 men and that the citizenry was reluctant to fight against the Ameri- 
cans. Furthermore, the local authorities were apathetic and quarreling among 
themselves. But after its occupation Larkin wrote an exaggerated account of 
the power of the Californians in Los Angeles. "The soldiers & farmers col- 
lected together in this place by the General, (Jovernor & Prefect of Monterey, 
amounted to about live hundred men. They had sufficient powder, many very 
handsome pieces of brass artillery, in good order & an incredible number of 


carbines & muskets all over the country, with as many horses & bullocks as 
they chose to take from the farms; the Officers & principal friends of the Genl. 
& Govr., were well provided with pistols and swords, and most of these 
people had a full knowledge of roads, mountains & country." But between 9 
and 11 Aug. parties of between twenty and sixty men left the city, "and on 
the arrival of the United States forces in the town on the 13 inst., not an 
armed soldier was to be found." He added that the people were completely 
subdued (23 Aug. 1846, larkin, 5:214-16). 

55. Robert F. Stockton to Fremont 

U. S. Frigate Congress 

Bay of San Pedro 

August 9th. 1846 


Castro has returned to a place within two miles of the Pueblo. 
I send to you a young man who will show you the way to 
"Temple's Rancho." FaidifuUy, Yr. obdt. servt., 

R. F. Stockton 
Commander in chief &c, &c. 


Major Fremont 
California Battalion. &c. &c. 

Lbk (DNA-45, Entry 395 [E-20-A], Letterbook of Robert F. Stockton, 1846- 
47). The day after landing at San Pedro, Stockton had received two commis- 
sioners — Pablo de la Guerra and Jose Maria Flores — who presented a note 
from Castro demanding an explanation of Stockton's purposes and pointing 
out that negotiations could not take place until all hostilities were sus- 
pended. BANCROFT, 5:268-76, believes that at this point Castro was disposed 
to accede to the U.S. wishes of voluntarily raising the American flag, and 
writes that Stockton was also aware that Castro might submit if negotiations 
were entered into. But Stockton did not want voluntary submission: he 
wished to avoid continuing the Californians in power on any basis. So he 
not only rejected the Mexican overtures for negotiations but also insisted on 
their raising the American flag in such a manner that Castro could not submit 
without great humiliation. The Californian refused to yield and informed 
Governor Pico that the country could not be defended and that he was leav- 
ing to report to the supreme government in Mexico. Pico submitted Castro s 
communication to the Assembly on 10 Aug., admitting in a speech that he 
saw no possibility of a successful defense. He also stated that he was leaving 
with the general to report to the national authorities and recommended that 
the Assembly dissolve— which it did. Castro disbanded his military force, and 
on the night of 10 Aug. he and Pico left the capital and went their separate 


ways. Castro slipped through the San Gorgonio Pass to the Colorado River 
and took the Sonora route into Mexico, never to return to California. Pico 
went to his Santa Margarita rancho, where he found his flight to Mexico 
temporarily cut off by the advancing Americans. His stay in Mexico was 
short, however, and in the middle of 1848 he was again in California. 

Stockton's march to Los Angeles began on 11 Aug., but when Castro's 
flight was known, 150 sailors were sent back to San Pedro. Captain Phelps 
of the Moscow, who had arrived at that port on 12 Aug., started overland to 
overtake Stockton's forces, and he described them as they moved out from 
Temple's rancho: "The invading army, as it now moved over the plains, 
presented quite an imposing appearance. First came the full band of music, 
followed by Captain Zeilin and his marines; then Lieut. Schenck and the 
web-feet; Lieut. Tighlman, and a battery of four quarter-deck guns, mounted 
on as many bullock carts' the carriages of the guns were secured by the 
breechings, and ready for instant service; each cart was drawn by four oxen, 
— the baggage ammunition followed in similar teams; the Purser, Doctor, 
and some other officers, — part of them mounted on rather sorry looking 
horses, and others on foot. The total force was about three hundred and 
fifty" ( PHELPS, 300). In a dispatch to Buchanan, Larkin says the force was 
250 men (23 Aug. 1846, larkin, 5:214-16). 

On 12 Aug., perhaps at the invitation of some of the Angelenos, Larkin, 
Passed Midshipman Charles H. Baldwin, and a servant pushed on ahead to 
the Government House in the city. Stockton arrived the next day, and a bit 
later — about 4 p.m. — JCF's forces, now mounted, joined those under Lieut. 
James P. Schenck in the gardens outside the town. The combined forces 
entered the capital. The brass band played "Hail Columbia," and the Stars 
and Stripes were hoisted in the plaza. The ship's crew took quarters within 
the walls of the Government House, and JCF's forces camped near the river 
(pHELPs, 302-5; LARKIN, 5:214-16). 

Before joining Stockton's forces, JCF had learned of Castro's retreat and 
had hoped to cut him off before he could reach the Colorado, but finding 
that Castro's horses were superior, he soon gave up the chase. The com- 
mander of the Cyane recorded that Castro "buried his guns in the most 
ingenious way in the sands, carrying on the carriages much further and 
leaving thus the wheel tracks to mislead; but the unerring eye of one of the 
Delaware Indians in Fremont's party detected the trail" (du pont, 50). On 
17 Aug. JCF started in pursuit of Governor Pico, a chase which he carried on 
half-heartedly and which ended by his writing to Pico "assuring him of pro- 
tection to his person and property, and inviting him to return to the city 
fLos Angeles]" (memoirs, 566; phelps, 302-5). Although Pico did not then 
decide to return, JCF heard afterward that "he thoroughly appreciated my 
sincere desire to save himself from annoyance and his affairs from derange- 
ment, and to publicly show my respect for him and his official position" 
(memoirs, 655). 

In his Senate speech opposing the nomination of Kearny for the brevet rank 
of major general, Benton said he had the letter from Pico, in the original 
Spanish, addressed from his retirement in Sonora to JCF, offering to come 
in person, if necessary, in the interests of preserving peace and order and dis- 
claiming all use of his name to the contrary. "Fremont," Benton said, "should 
keep it forever, as the high testimony of his exalted conduct in California" 
(Washington Daily Union, 1 Sept. 1848), but unfortunately the letter has 
been lost to history. 


JCF was at San Diego when he received word of the official declaration 
of war with Mexico. He left Gillespie there and hastened back to Los 
Angeles to communicate with Stockton (phelps, 303-5). 

56. Robert F. Stockton to Fremont 


August 24th. 1846 

By the Mexican newspapers I see that war has been declared both 
by the United States and Mexico/ and the most vigorous measures 
have been adopted by Congress to carry it to a speedy conclusion. 

Privateers will no doubt be fitted out to prey upon our commerce, 
and the immense value of that commerce in the Pacific Ocean, and 
the number of valuable men engaged in it, requires immediately all 
the protection that can be given to them, by the Ships under my 

I must therefore withdraw my forces from California as soon as it 
can be safely done, and as soon as you can enlist men enough to gar- 
rison this City, Monterey, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and San 
Diego; and to have a sufficient force besides to watch the Indians 
and other enemies. 

For these purposes you are authorized and required to increase 
your present force to three hundred men. 

Fifty for San Francisco, Fifty for Monterey, Twenty five for Santa 
Barbara, Fifty for this City, and Twenty five for San Diego; and one 
hundred to be kept together, with whom those in the several garri- 
sons can at short notice be called upon at anytime in case of necessity 
to act. 

I propose before I leave the Territory to appoint you to be the 
Governor, and Captain Gillespie the Secretary thereof; and to ap- 
point also the Council of State, and all the other necessary officers. 

You will therefore proceed without delay to do all you can to fur- 
ther my views and intentions thus frankly manifested. Supposing 
that by the 25th of October, you will have accomplished your part of 
these preparations, I will meet you at San Francisco on that day to 
complete the whole arrangement, and to place you as Governor 
over California. 


You will dispose of your present force in the following manner, 
which mav be hereafter altered as occasion may require. 

Captain Gillespie to be stationed at this City, with Fifty men and 
officers in the neighbourhood — Twenty five men with an officer at 
Santa Barbara — Fifty men and officers at Monterey, and Fifty at San 

If this be done at once I can at any time safely withdraw my 
forces, as I proceed up the coast to San Francisco ; and be ready after 
our meeting on the 25th of October to leave the desk and the camp, 
and take to the ship and to the Sea. Faithfully Yr. Obdt. Servt. 

R. F. Stockton 
Commander in Chief and Governor of the Territory of California 

To Major Fremont 
California Battalion 
Ciudad de los Angeles 

LS (DNA-45, Pacific Squadron, Commodore Stockton. 1846-47). An un- 
signed copy is in DLC — Polk Papers, where the endorsement notes "Reed. 
Nov 30. 1846." The letter was printed in "Report of the Secretary of the 
Navy" in Message of the President of the United States to the Two Houses 
of Congress, 8 Dec. 1846. House Exec. Doc. 4, 29th Cong., 2nd sess., Serial 
497. .-Xt the time of Stockton's writing, the U.S. flag was flying at every com- 
manding position in California, and ostensibly the conquest of California was 
complete. Stockton proclaimed martial law but indicated that the people 
might choose their local civil officers. 

1. President Polk signed the declaration of war on 13 May 1846, four days 
after the receipt of the news that a small squadron of dragoons, constituting 
part of the command of Gen. Zachary Taylor, had been fired upon by 
Mexican forces in the area north of the Rio Grande, not far from Point 
Isabel, Tex. The news of the declaration was received in California on 17 
Aug., when the Warren came into San Pedro. 

57. Robert F. Stockton to James K. Polk 


Ciudad de los Angeles 
August 26th. 1846 
Dear Sir: 

You will no doubt be informed by the Secretary of State and the 
Navy Department of the doings of the Frigate Congress under my 


command at Honolulu and in California, and you will be enabled to 
judge of my conduct, without a word from me on the subject — how 
far I have fulfilled my own promises, and to what degree I have 
come up to your expectations. 

By the month of October, I think I will have the whole civil gov- 
ernment of the Territory, in peaceful and successful operation — the 
foreign population is now so small in comparison with the native 
population, that I am of opinion that a mixed government of old 
and new forms will be at present most beneficial and wise. 

I will therefore make the Organic Laws of the Territory very few 
and strong, and leave as much of the old municipal regulations in 
force, as will be consistent with the entire change of Government. 

The most important and serious subject connected at present with 
the Government of California, and on which account this letter is 
principally written, is the arrival at San Francisco of some of the 
Mormons,^ and the expected arrival of a great many more, who are 
likely to give me more trouble than our "decided enemies." 

You will see by my Proclamation of the 17th that I have had my 
eye upon them." I write this private letter and sent it overland by 
Express, that you may if you see fit send me by the return messenger 
some instructions on the subject, or let me work it out on my own 

We have taken most of the Military leaders, and will no doubt 
take the others who have not fled to Mexico. I have Expresses going 
constantly from one end of the Territory to the other, and all is now 
peaceful and quiet. 

My word is at present the law of the land. My person is more than 
regal. The haughty Mexican Cavalier shakes hands with me with 
pleasure, and the beautiful women look to me with joy and gladness 
as their friend and benefactor. In short all of power and luxury is 
spread before me, through the mysterious workings of a beneficient 

No man could or ought to desire more of power and respect, but 
my work is almost done here, and my duty calls me again upon the 
ocean, to protect as well as I may, the lives and property of our fel- 
low citizens engaged in commerce. I will go without the least hesita- 
tion, and will transfer my power to other hands without repining. 

As soon as I can safely do so I will appoint Major Fremont Gov- 
ernor and Captain Gillespie Secretary of the Territory. They both 


understand the people and their language and I think are eminently 
qualified to perform the duties, which I shall assign to them, until 
your pleasure is made known to me. 

The ardent zeal shown by them throughout deserves this compli- 
ment; besides they are fully possessed of my views, which if they are 
worth anything, may be some advantage to them. 

The Battalion increased to three hundred picked men, will be kept 
in the service, and will be quite sufficient to defend the Territory. 

I enclose my last order to Major Fremont, that you may see how 
the force will be disposed of. I earnestly request you to confirm them 
in their places, as the most salutary arrangement that can be made 
for the good of the Territory. 

One word for my officers and crew — more devoted men never 
walked a ship's deck. They are quite willing to stay with me as long 
as I stay, and go with me wherever I may go, and I should be sorry 
to leave them behind. 

Will you not compliment them under your own hand in a general 
order? giving me permission to bring the ship and them home with 
me, as soon as the war is over. 

They deserve it, they did the work; and have secured by their toil 
and daring this beautiful Empire. I have made this request of the 
Secretary, but your name would be better. 

Major Fremont will send this letter with my despatches to the 
Secretary of the Navy, by Express^ over the mountains, and in four 
months I will if nothing happens to prevent, be at San Francisco to 
get your reply, which I hope you will return immediately, that no 
unnecessary delay may take place in my operations here. Your faith- 
ful friend and obdt. servt., 

R. F. Stockton 
To His Excellency 
James K. Polk 

President of the United States 
Washington, D. C. 

Lbk (DNA-45, Entry 395 [E-ZO-A], Letterbook of Robert F. Stockton, 

1. About 240 Mormons had arrived at San Francisco on the Brooklyn on 
31 July 1846. 

2. The proclamation excluded from the territory those who would not agree 
to support the existing government, promised religious liberty to those who 


did pledge allegiance, and forbade on penalty of deportation the carrying of 
arms without special permission. The provision, "Nor will any persons, come 
from where they may, be permitted to settle in the Territory, who do not 
pledge themselves to be, in all respects, obedient to the laws which may be 
from time to time enacted by the proper authorities of the Territory," was 
particularly aimed at the Mormons. Stockton's proclamation to the people 
of California, 17 Aug. 1846, is printed in House Exec. Doc. 4, pp. 669-70, 
29th Cong., 2nd sess.. Serial 497. 

3. The express was Kit Carson, who was ordered to go to Washington in 
sixty days (carson. 111). With fifteen men and fifty mules, each mule carrying 
one bushel of dried corn, he left Los Angeles on 5 Sept. When he met Gen- 
eral Kearny 175 miles from Santa Fe at present-day Socorro on the Rio 
Grande, thirty-one days later, only eighteen mules had survived {Missouri 
Republican, 16 Nov. 1846). According to JCF, Carson was selected "to 
insure the safety and speedy delivery of these important papers, and as a 
reward for brave and valuable service on many occasions. . . . He was to go 
direct to Senator Benton at Washington, who would personally introduce 
him to the President and Secretary of the Navy, and to whom he could give 
in fulness the incidental detail always so much more interesting than the 
restricted official report. . . . On his way he would see his family at Taos, 
New Mexico, through which lay his shortest road to the frontier. It was a 
service of high trust and honor, but of great danger also. . . . He went off, 
charged with personal messages and personal feelings, and I looked to his 
arrival at home and the deep interest and pleasure he would bring to them 
there, almost with the pleasure I should feel in getting there myself — it was 
touching home. Going off at the head of his own party with carte blanche for 
expenses and the prospect of novel pleasure and honor at the end was a 
culminating point in Carson's life" (memoirs, 567). JCF never forgave 
Kearny for turning Carson back and using him as his guide to California, 
sending the dispatches on to Washington by Fitzpatrick, who incidentally 
was also highly regarded by JCF and who had been with him on the 1843- 
44 expedition. Philip St. George Cooke grumbled that with Kearny's order, 
the express for JCF's mail was able to requisition twenty-one of the best 
mules in Santa Fe (cooke, 93). 

58. Robert F. Stockton to Fremont 


August 27th. 1846 

On my arrival in this City I found that the Furniture had all been 
removed from the Government House, and that the Archives of the 
Government had also been carried ofT. 

Some of the Furniture has been restored since my Proclamation 


Christopher Carson. From a print at the University of Illinois. Collection 

of Donald Jackson. 


on that subject by an individual; and I have reason to believe there is 
more of it in the City — and that there are some important Public 
Documents in the House of a citizen. 

You are therefore authorized and required to seize the Archives, 
and al.l other Public Property that you may be enabled to find in this 
City, or elsewhere in the Territory ; and to keep them securely until 
a future Governor and the Legislative Council shall otherwise direct. 
Faithfully, Yr. obdt. servt., 

R. F. Stockton 
Governor and Commander in Chief of the Territory of California 


Major Fremont 
California Battalion 
Ciudad de los Angeles 

Lbk (DNA-45, Entry 395 [E-20-A], Letterbook of Robert F. Stockton, 

59. Robert F. Stockton to Fremont 

Ciudad de los Angeles 
August 31st. 1846 

You will proceed as soon as your other duties will permit, to St. 
Johns near Monterey, and ascertain the views of Captain Fauntleroy 
and Mr. McLane in relation to remaining in the service of the Terri- 
tory, and the number of men under their command, and how many 
of them will enter for the Battalion.^ 

You will then go on to San Francisco, where you will see Com- 
mander Montgomery, who will inform you how many men he has 
enlisted into the service of the United States, who will answer for 
the Battalion. 

After which you may adopt the best measures to get rid of any 
surplus, or to supply any deficiency. The Battalion may consist of 
Three hundred, exclusive of officers. 

If you should fall in with Lieutenant Maddox" you will also ascer- 


tain his views and wishes as to remaining in the service of the Terri- 
tory. Faithfully, Yr. obdt. servt., 

R. F. Stockton 
Commander in Chief of the Territory of California 

Major Fremont 
California Battalion 

Lbk (DNA-45, Entry 395 [E-20-A]. Letterbook of Robert F. Stockton, 

1. Daingerfield Fauntleroy (d. 1853) had been temporarily relieved of his 
duties as purser on the Savannah on 8 July 1846 by Commodore Sloat in 
order to organize a company of dragoons. The company, made up of sailors 
from the warships in Monterey Bay and civilian volunteers, would garrison 
San Juan Bautista. an outpost to the defenses of Monterey. Naval Acting 
Lieut. Louis McLane (1819-1905) of the Levant was the first lieutenant in 
Fauntleroy's troop. For the activities of these horse marines in July and 
August in guarding the lines of communication to the north and south and 
in quelling marauding Indians, see mc lane, 84-86, and ames [2]. Fauntleroy 
was ordered back to his duties as purser on 18 Sept. 1846, and McLane 
turned his attention to recruiting for the California Battalion. When its 
reorganization was complete, he was captain of artillery (later major) and 
was subsequendy one of JCF's commissioners who signed the Treaty of 

2. Lieut. William A. T. Maddox (1814-89) had commanded the Marine 
squad raising the U.S. flag in San Diego a few weeks earUer. and after the 
reoccupation of Los Angeles he had gone to Monterey with the companies 
of Henry L. Ford and Granville P. Swift. Near San Luis Obispo they 
captured and paroled some Californian officers, including Jose de Jesus Pico, 
who was later to break his parole. Commodore Stockton arrived at Monterey 
with the Congress on 15 Sept., and on the 18th Maddox was made com- 
mandant of the Central District with the rank of captain in the CaHfornia 
Battalion (b.-vncroft, 5:282, 289-90). In 1857 he helped suppress the Plug- 
Ugly riot in Washington, D.C., and from that year to 1878 was stationed 
in I^hiladelphia in charge of the Marine Battalion's assistant quartermaster's 
office. Three naval destroyers have been named for him (DNA-45, Entry 464, 
Subject File ZB; naval ships, 4:188-90). 

60. Robert F. Stockton to Fremont 

CiuDAD DE LOS Angeles, September 1, 1846 

The amount of money for which you have made a requisition can- 
not be furnished you at this time. Mr. [William] Speiden, the purser 


of the Congress, says he can only spare twenty thousand dollars; 
which I hope will answer your purposes until we hear from home, 
and receive information from the government how and where (if 
hostilities continue) we can be furnished with funds.^ 

It is quite probable that we may not be able to get any money at 
Mazatlan. Respectfully, your obedient servant, 

R. F. Stockton, 
Commander-in-chief, &c. 
Major Fremont, California battalion 

Printed in ex. martial, 290. 

1. JCF had already obtained $L000 in gold, "equal to sixteen dollars to the 
ounce or doubloon," on 16 Aug. from purser Speiden, $500 on 25 Aug., and 
$1,000 on 27 Aug. 1846 (see Presidential Message on the Accounts of John C. 
Fremont, Senate Exec. Doc. 109, pp. 14-17, 34th Cong., 1st sess., Serial 825). 

61. Fremont's Appointment as 
Military Commandant 

[Los Angeles] 
[2 Sept. 18461 
Know all men by these presents : 

That I, Robert F. Stockton, governor and commander-in-chief of 
the territory of California, reposing special confidence in the ability 
and patriotism of Major J. C. Fremont, of the United States army, 
do hereby appoint him to be the military commandant of the terri- 
tory of California. 

To have and to exercise all the powers and privileges of that office 
until the governor of the said territory shall otherwise direct. 

Therefore, by these presents, I do hereby command all civil and 
military officers and citizens to obey him accordingly. 

Given under my hand on this second day of September, Anno 
Domini one thousand eight hundred and forty-six. 

R. F. Stockton 
Ciudad de los Angeles, Sept. 2, 1848 [1846] 

Printed in cT. martial, 110. 


62. Robert F. Stockton to Fremont 

U. S. Frigate Congress 
Bay of San Pedro 
September 4th. 1846 

When you send orders to Captain Ford^ to proceed to San Fran- 
cisco, you will please to write to Lieutenant Maddox, that it is my 
wish that he should go to that place and await my arrival, or the 
arrival of this Ship; when he will report himself to the Command- 
ing officer for further orders. 

You will also leave with Captain Gillespie for Lieutenant Maddox, 
a note to the same effect, in case he should return to the Pueblo. 
Faithfully, Yr. obdt. servt., 

R. F. Stockton 
Governor and Commander in Chief of the Territory of California 


Major Fremont 

Military Commandant of the Territory of California, Ciudad de los 


Lbk (DNA-45, Entry 395 [E-20-A], Letterbook of Robert F. Stockton, 

1. Born Noah Eastman Ford in New Hampshire in 1822, this officer had 
taken the name of his brother, Henry L. Ford, after deserting from the 
dragoons at Carlisle Barracks, Pa. He stowed away for California, worked 
for Sutter as a hunter, took a prominent part in the Bear Flag Revolt, and 
commanded in the fight at Olompali. As noted in Doc. No. 59, n. 2, he had 
gone south with JCF and returned north by land with Maddox. Ford later 
commanded Company B of the reorganized California Battalion and was 
killed in 1860 by the accidental discharge of his pistol (rogers [1]). 

63. Fremont to Pierson B. Reading 

Ciudad de los Angeles; Sepr. 4. 1846 

You will immediately embark in the U. S. ship Congress, about to 
sail for the Bay of San Francisco, via Monterey. 


On your arrival at Monterey you will please obtain information in 
regard to a cavaUada [caballada] of horses (350), which were left in 
charge of the commanding officer at St. Johns on our departure for 
San Diego ;^ and have it in readiness for delivery to an officer who 
will be despatched with a party of men for that purpose. The officer 
sent will be directed to report to you at Monterey. 

You will please be particularly careful to let no animals be taken 
from the band by any of the men who go up with you on board the 
ship. As the cavallada will be immediately sent to the Sacramento, 
any private horses in it can be there returned to their owners. Very 
respectfully Your Obedt. Servt., 

J. C. Fremont, 
Military Commandant of California 

ALS, RC (C). Addressed, "Reading, Paymaster California Battalion of 
U. S. Forces, Angeles, California." Pierson B. Reading (1816-68), a native 
of New Jersey, had come to California in 1843 in the Chiles- Walker party. 
Business failures in the cotton market in Vicksburg and New Orleans had 
prompted his emigration (steger). He worked for Sutter, was an active 
Bear Flagger, and some of the volunteers would have preferred Reading to 
JCF as commander of the battalion (harlan, 84-85). After the war Reading 
devoted his attention primarily to business — mining and the development of 
his Rancho Buenaventura in Shasta County — although in 1851 he was an 
unsuccessful candidate for governor. 

1. The commanding officer was Daingerfield Fauntleroy. 

64. Fremont to Archibald H. Gillespie 

CiuDAD DE LOS Angeles ; Scpr. 7. 1846 

Lieut. G. B. Wilson,^ with a detachment of twenty men from 
company E., has been placed in occupation of the Caxon Pass [Cajon 
Pass], through which leads the "Spanish trail" from New Mexico. 
He has been directed to guard, so far as his small force will admit, 
the neighboring approaches from Sonora; reporting all occurrences 
worthy [of] notice immediately to yourself, and keeping you at all 
times well informed of the general condition of the Frontier. 

He is farther directed to pursue, bring back, and deliver to you 


at this post, all persons attempting to pass the Frontier committed to 
his surveillance. Very Respectfully Your Obedt. Servt., 

}. C. Fremont 
Military Commandant of California 
Capt. Archibald Gillespie 
Military Commandant of the Southern Department of California 

ALS, RC (CLU— Gillespie Papers). Endorsed. 

1. JCF has made an error in the initials of Benjamin Davis Wilson (1811- 
78), who was known in California as Benito. A native of Tennessee, he had 
immigrated to California in the Workman party from New Mexico, where 
he had resided for years as a trapper and trader. Within a few weeks after 
occupying Cajon Pass, he was captured with nineteen other Americans at 
the Chino rancho, the home of Isaac Williams, some twenty-five miles east 
of Los Angeles. Wilson later became the second mayor of Los Angeles, the 
city's foremost railroad booster, and state senator for two terms. 

In his "Observations" Wilson implies that Williams betrayed the U.S. 
force to gain favor with the Californians (wilson, 106-10). 

65. Fremont to Thomas Oliver Larkin 

Mission of San Jose 
[Sept..? 1846] 
Dear Sir 

I have examined carefully the business of which we were speak- 
ing, approve your intentions, and enter into the agreement with you 

This is a pretty place, this mission." The gardens or orchards 
might be made handsome places but, to render them valuable, who- 
ever possesses them in the new state of things should possess also the 
water which no[w] supplies these vineyards and which comes from 
a ravine or arroyo in the hills behind. A handsome plain of good 
land extends from the hills towards the bay and could be well 
watered and highly cultivated. 

There are some valuable bodies of land from this around the bay 
towards the Mountain Diavolo [Diablo] and lying under it. Two of 
these are between Pinole^ and Marsh's, one, next and adjoining 
Pinole belongs to the Welch family (a brother in law of Forbes)'* 
and the other to the mother in law of Tom Bowen,'' a drunken vaga- 


bond about the Pueblo San Jose. These lands lie upon the bay. I shall 
be glad to hear from you at any opportunity and should like to see 
you at an early day. Call upon me when necessary. Yours truly, 

J. C. Fremont 

I understand that one of the orchards here belongs to Alvarado. 

Thomas O. Larkin Esqre 

Naval Agent for the U. States in California 

Printed in larkin, 5:255-56. 

1. JCF's business agreement with Larkin is not known. 

2. The Mission San Jose in Alameda County is some distance from the 
Pueblo de San Jose. With a party of thirty-five or forty men, JCF had left 
Los Angeles on 11 Sept. At Santa Barbara he detached Talbot and nine men 
to garrison that town and, guided by William Knight, proceeded north 
toward the Sacramento Valley (memoirs, 570-72). He stopped at the Mis- 
sion San Jose and other setded places to recruit for his battalion of 300 and 
to sound out the American settlers on their attitude toward enlisting in a 
battalion which Stockton desired to organize for a movement on Mexico (see 
Doc. No. 66). This letter indicates that while he was caring for pubHc 
business, JCF was not adverse to promoting his private interest — that of 
acquiring valuable land. It may have been at this time or earlier that he 
acquired several fifty-vara lots in San Francisco (as did Stockton and Sloat), 
which Leidesdorff later hired Jacob W. Harlan to fence (harlan, 110).^ 

3. The Pinole rancho. Contra Costa County, owned by Ignacio Martinez. 

4. The family of William Welsh, who had come to California as a sailor, 
probably from Scotland, was a large one— there being eight sons and 
daughters. The brother-in-law was James Alexander Forbes (d. 1881), also a 
Scot and the British vice-consul in California. 

5. Tom Bowen's distillery business failed in 1844. A trapper from New 
Mexico, Bowen had been Hving in San Jose since 1836 (pioneer register: 

GIFFEN [2], 25). 

66. Robert F. Stockton to Fremont 


United States Frigate Congress 
Harbour of San Francisco, September 28, 1846 

I am here anxious to know^ what prospect there is of your being 
able to recruit my thousand men, for a visit to Mexico. 


Let me know as soon as possible, many serious arrangements will 
have to be made, all requiring more or less time, which, you know 
in war, is more precious than "rubies." Your faithful and obedient 

R. F. Stockton 
Governor, &c. 

To Major Fremont, Military Commandant of the Territory of Cali- 

Copy of enclosure 4 in Stockton to George Bancroft, 23 Nov. 1846 (DNA- 
45, Pacific Squadron, Commodore Stockton, 1846-47). On 19 Sept. Stockton 
had written confidentially to Capt. William Mervine, now in command of the 
Savannah, that he had sent JCF north to see how many men he could recruit, 
"with a view to embark[ing] them for Mazatlan or Acapulco, where, if 
possible, I intend to land and fight our way as far on to the city of Mexico 
as I can." He wanted Mervine to have the ships of the squadron located 
where he might get them together as soon as possible. And on 1 Oct. he 
wrote the Secretary of the Navy that he would send the Savannah "on her 
cruise tomorrow, and the Portsmouth in a few days, and will follow myself 
in the Congress as soon as I can (if not sooner superseded by Commodore 
Biddle), to carry out my views in regard to Mexico, with which I have not 
thought it necessary or expedient yet to acquaint the Department." Both 
letters are printed in Report of the Secretary of the Navy, Communicating 
Copies of Commodore StocJ{ton's Despatches Relating to the Military and 
Naval Operations in California, Senate Doc. 31, pp. 13-15, 30th Cong., 2nd 
sess., Serial 531. 

But Stockton's vision of shaking hands with General Taylor at the gates 
of Mexico City was shattered the very day he penned the note to the 
Secretary of the Navy. John Brown, better known as Juan Flaco, arrived 
with Gillespie's pleas for immediate aid, for the Angelenos had risen in 
revolt and his garrison was under siege. In fact, before Stockton could send 
relief, Gillespie was forced to move out of Los Angeles (28 or 29 Sept.) to San 
Pedro, where his force was to surrender its artillery to the Californians and 
embark on the Vandalia for Monterey. The Vandalia was able to remain at 
San Pedro, but for a time the men were confined to the ship (marti, 75-83). 

Stockton canceled his plans to go to Mexico, sent William Mervine in the 
Savannah to aid Gillespie, and hastily summoned JCF to San Francisco from 
the Sacramento Valley, instructing him to bring as many men and saddles as 
he could procure. 

Larkin, who in time became a prisoner of the rebels, attributed the dis- 
turbances to CJillespie's "harshness" and Stockton's "cheap way of conduct- 
ing." From the (Government House in Los Angeles he wrote to his wife on 
14 Dec, "I hear from many of the People of the Country that had Dr. 
Gilcrist, Lt. A. (key, or any proper and prudent person been left here by 
the Como all this disturbance would not have happened. It appears even 
from the Americans that Captain AH(i punished fined and imprisoned who 
and when he pleased with(jut any hearing. I always told the Como he should 
have granted the Mexican officers their request to be sent to Mexico. He 


would not that, and his cheap way of conducting — with Capt Gillespie's 
harshness has brot the country to its present pass. Its done, I am a Prisoner" 
(larkin, 5:310-15). 

67. Robert F. Stockton to Fremont 

U. S. Frigate Congress 

Harbour of San Francisco 

October 1st. 1846 


I send a Boat to Sonoma for you, in the hopes that the news from 
the South has brought you on in this direction; and that you will be 
ready with your men to embark with me. I will wait until the 4th 
for you, or the return of the boat. 

Bring with you as many men as you can. If I hear that you are on 

the road this way, I'll wait for you. Hurry! Faithfully, Yr. obdt. 


R. F. Stockton 

Commodore &c. 


Major Fremont 

Military Commandant of the Territory of California 

[On the bac\ of the envelope:^ The Boats will wait an answer from 
Major Fremont. 

Lbk (DNA-45, Entry 395 [E-20-A1, Letterbook of Robert F. Stockton, 

68. Fremont to Edward M. Kern 

Camp Cosiimne river, Oct. 4 [1846] 
Dear Sir, 

Please send me our brand (letter F) should Cosgrave^ not have 

left. Yrs. truly, 

J. C. Fremont 


Do not detain your mail [ ?] for me as Commodore Stockton leaves 
today, but send him immediately with information [to] the neigh- 
boring people that we want men. 

Lieut. Kerne, 

Comdg. Fort Sacramento 

The greater part of the Sonoma people will [ ?] have embarked in 
the Congress, but there may be some remaining who could overtake 
us. We leave tomorrow. 

DS, RC (CSmH). 

1. "F" was branded on all the horses belonging to JCF's exploring party. 
Anthony Cosgrave, a blacksmith, had been a member of JCF's exploring 
party. He would later use his talents in working on a gun carriage at Santa 
Barbara (DNA-217, T-135, voucher 191; DNA-92, CaUfornia Claims Board, 
receipt dated 5 Feb. 1847). 

69. Fremont to Edward M. Kern 

[Fort Sacramento] 
[7 Oct. 1846] 

Received of Lieut. E. M. Kern Commanding Military Post Fort 
Sacramento, Four Horses & the following articles for the use of the 
California Battalion. 

77 lbs Tobacco 

1 Keg 25 lbs Powder 

J. C. Fremont 

Military Commandant of U. S. Forces in California 

Oct 7 1846 

DS, RC (CSmH). 


70. Robert F. Stockton to Fremont 

October 13th. 1846 
Dear Sir: 

Captain Vincent will remain at Santa Barbara until you will be 
able to decide on your course of action. 

I will thank you to write to me by him, to inform me of your 
probable approach towards the Angeles. 

Wishing you great success and honor, I am most truly Yours 

R. F. Stockton 

Major Fremont 
Military Commandant of the Territory of California 

Lbk (DNA-45, Entry 395 [E-20-A], Letterbook of Robert F. Stockton, 

71. Fremont to William A. Leidesdorfl 

Ship Sterling, Oct 14th 46 
Dear Sir, 

I would be indebted to you to forward immediately the enclosed. 
Should Dr. Marsh need any assistance in his arrangements^ for me 
please supply him with the necessary funds until my return. Yours 

J. C. Fremont 

Capt. W. Leidesdorff 

ALS, RC (CU-B). Endorsed. The enclosure has not been identified. JCF 
had embarked on the merchant ship Sterling with about 160 men the previous 
day, under orders to proceed to Santa Barbara, where he was to procure 
horses to march to Los Angeles. He and his force had arrived in San Fran- 
cisco from the Sacramento region on 12 Oct., having traveled the last stage 
of their journey in a fleet of boats commanded by Midshipman Edward 
Beale, whom Stockton had sent to look for him (memoirs, 574-75). 

1. Dr. John Marsh (d. 1856), a native of Massachusetts with a medical 


diploma from Harvard, came to California in 1836 via Wisconsin, Missouri, 
New Mexico, and Sonora. He acquired a rancho at the foot of Mount Diablo, 
which he named Brentwood and where he became wealthy in livestock 
(lyman). His "arrangements" are not known. While Marsh was much 
interested in politics and wanted California to become a part of the United 
States, he actually took Uttle part in the political troubles of 1846-47. 

72. Fremont to Edward M. Kern 

Ship Sterling ofT Monterey Oct 22/46 

Dear Sir: 

Many of the emigrants who will come to us, will necessarily leave 
their families unprovided for & without supplies. I know that you 
have but little in the way of shelter to oflfer them, but please do for 
them in that respect all that you can; for any supplies that they may 
need, please send to Capt. Leidesdorff (at Yerba Buena) who will 
forward them to you. I have already written to him to that effect. 

• • • • 

Tell Jean Dreau [Gendreau] that I have directed the Walla Wallas 
who shall come to me to leave their families in his charge, & let him 
know that you will send to Yerba Buena for any supplies that the 
families may want. 

• • • • 

Truly yours, 

J. C. Fremont 

Lt. E. M. Kern 
Commg. Sac. Dist. 

Copy of excerpt in the draft of a letter of Edward M. Kern to Archibald 
Gillespie, 11 March 1853 (CSmH). Kern was trying to answer Gillespie's 
queries regarding events in the conquest of California. He noted that there 
were from fifty to sixty women and children at Sutter's Fort to whom he 
supplied rations. He extracted the above letter from JCF, and one from John 
B. Montgomery, 2 Nov. 1846 (not printed here), as his authority for doing 
so. He also noted that he had had horses under his charge, sometimes as 
many as 800. "I kept them at a grazing camp & used them for the trans- 
portation of recruits from my post to different parts of the lower country. 


... A good number of them taken from the Sonoma side from the 
Rancho of Genl. Vallejo were national Horses and branded with the Govt. 
Iron of the Mission of San Rappael. . . . Genl. Kearny took possession of 
the whole band when he came to the Fort without receipting for them to me. 
There were then there as well as my memory serves me (my papers having 
been lost in the Mts. in 48 & 49 with Fremont) about Five hundred head. 
What became of the balance after he had selected sufficient for his home- 
ward journey I do not know." 

73. Fremont to John B. Montgomery 

Ship Sterling, Off San Antonio; 22d. Oct. 46 

This note will be handed you by Mr. D. Burruss,^ who will be 
able to give you some interesting information, should the recent oc- 
currences below be not already known to you. I have despatched Mr. 
Burruss to the Sacramento Valley, via Sonoma; on very urgent busi- 
ness for the government, and I will be greatly indebted for any 
facility it may suit your convenience to afTord him forwarding him 
on his way. For four or five days past we have been becalmed within 
a few miles of our present position, vainly endeavoring to make 
Monterey. A boat will be despatched in the morning which will 
probably anticipate our arrival several days, should the calm con- 
tinue. With much respect. Your Obedt. Servt., 

J. C. Fremont 
Military Commandant of California 
Captain J. B. Montgomery 
U. S. Ship Portsmouth, 

Commanding Northern Department of California, San Francisco 

ALS, RC (DNA-45. Area 9 File, Pacific). Endorsed: "Reed, at San Fran- 
cisco." JCF and Stockton had sailed on separate vessels for the south, but on 
the first evening out of San Francisco the Sterling became separated from the 
Congress in the fog. When two days later she fell in with the Vandalia, JCF 
learned that the insurrection against Gillespie had spread over all of the 
southern half of California and that the California ns had driven stock into the 
interior. As mounts were not to be had, JCF decided to sail to Monterey, 
collect horses, men, provisions, and ammunition, and march overland. As 
this letter indicates, the lack of wind slowed his voyage to Monterey, but he 
finally entered the harbor on 27 Oct. Welcoming him at Monterey was the 


news of his appointment as lieutenant colonel in the Army (cT. martial, 

^^^)- . . . 

1. JCF was sending the popular Charles D. Burrass, sometimes referred to 

as Burroughs or Burruss, to recruit and equip members for the California 
Battalion. He was from St. Louis and was in command at the battle of 
Natividad on the Salinas Plains, 16 Nov. 1846 — a battle in which he lost his 
life (Doc. No. 90; 26 June 1847 letter of William R. Russell, Missouri Repub- 
lican, 17 May 1847; California Star, 21 Aug. 1847). 

74. Charles D. Burrass to Fremont 

Yerba Buena Oct 26th 1846 

You will pay to W. A. Leidesdorff Thirty Dollars in payment of 
one Rifle Gun Bullet Moulds & shot pouch. For the use of California 
BattaUon. Yrs. Respectfully, 

C. D. Burrass 

Major J. C. Fremont 

Military Commandant of California 

ALS, RC (CU-B). Endorsed. 

75. Fremont to Robert F. Stockton 

[27 Oct. 1846] 

• • • • 

We met the Vandalia with information of the occurrences below. 
Mr. Howard^ represented that the enemy had driven off all the 
horses and cattle, so that it would be impossible to obtain either for 
transportation or supplies. Under the circumstances, and using the 
discretionary authority you have given me, I judged it of paramount 
necessity to haul up immediately for this port, with the intention to 
send for all the men who could be raised in the north, and for the 
band of horses which 1 had left on the Consumne. In the meantime 
we should be able to check the insurrection here, and procure horses 


and supplies, so as to be in readiness to march to the southward im- 
mediately on the arrival of our reinforcements. 

• • ■ • 

[J. C. Fremont] 

Excerpt, printed in memoirs, 579-80. The complete letter has not been 
found, but its contents are substantiated by Stockton in a letter to the Secre- 
tary of the Navy, 23 Nov. 1846, from San Diego (stockton. Appendix A, 
pp. 4-6). 

For our determination of date, see Mervine to Fremont, 14 Nov. 1846, 
Doc. No. 84. The letter was received from the Male}{ Adhel by Stockton, 
w^ho was ofif the coast of San Diego about 1 Nov. 

1. Bostonian William Davis Merry Howard (1819-56), who had been 
supercargo of the Vandalia from 1843 to 1845, was now associated with Henry 
Melius in the mercantile business in San Francisco. The two men had pur- 
chased the property of the Hudson's Bay Company. For biographical details 
and some of Howard's letters to his second wife, see whitwell. 

76. John B. Montgomery to Fremont 

U. S. Ship Portsmouth 
San Francisco, Oct. 29th. 1846 

Your letter by Mr. Burrass reached me on the evening of the 27th 
& in two hours after he w^as on his way in one of my boats to 
Sonoma, with orders to Lieut. Revere at that post to speed him on 
his way to Fort Sacramento. 

On the Uth inst. receiving intelligence from Lieut. Maddox of the 
agitated state of affairs about Monterey & the probability of an attack 
upon that place I despatched boats to Sonoma & the Fort Sacra- 
mento, with direction to the officers in command to go on with en- 
listments for the general Service & forward couriers from the Fort 
to intercept & hasten the arrival of approaching Emigrants which 
was promptly done by Mr. Kern who has sent down in my launch 
twenty-four men with an intimation that others will be ready to 
come down on the return of the boat which I shall not now send 
since Mr. Burrass informed me that all will be required to attend 
the caballada which he expects to obtain at the Fort. 

Several days since I directed Mr. [Lansford W.] Hastings to pro- 


ceed to the Pueblo of San Jose & to engage such of the emigrants as 
may have reached that place & despatched at the same time a party 
of men with orders to collect all good horses between this & the 
Pueblo for the Public Service to be forwarded in a few days with the 
troops collecting here, probably in charge of Capt. Grigsby should 
he return to this place. 

Having had much difficulty heretofore in procuring rifle caps I 
have deemed it proper to purchase a lot of 10,000 which I hope to 
forward you by Capt. Grigsby whose receipt in your behalf will be 
required. I have also purchased & supplied each recruit with a horn 
of rifle powder to be included in the receipt. 

All the troops forwarded from here will be supplied with Blan- 
kets, necessary clothing & tobacco from the Stores of the Portsmouth, 
an account of which I will cause to be forwarded to be charged to 
their respective accts. of pay. 

I sincerelv hope Sir that you may be enabled to efFect all necessary 
arrangements for a speedy movement upon the enemy in the South 
before the advance of the rainy season shall present new difficulties 
to be overcome. 

The natives I suppose will take great encouragement from their 
late Success in driving back the main force of the Savannah, the 
news of their victory, as it is termed having been already extensively 
circulated through the country with the view of enticing all to their 
Standard. It was an unfortunate mistake under the circumstances to 
attempt an advance from the coast without cannon. 

Permit me Sir to express to you my sincere congratulations on 
your recent promotion of which I am informed by my son in a 
letter received a few days since from Mazatlan. I am Sir Very Respy. 
Your Obt. Servant, 

Jno. B. Montgomery 
Military Commandant of the Northn. Dept. of 
Calif. & Commander of U. S. Ship Portsmouth 

Lieut. Col. 
J. C. Fremont 
Military Commandant of California 

Lbk (DNA-45, no. 22, Officers' Letters. Letterbooks of J. R. Montgomery). 


11 . Fremont to Edward M. Kern 

Monterey, Octr. 30. 1846 

Dear Sir, 

I send Mr. Foster^ to aid in enlisting men for us. Please give your 
aid. Colonel Wm. H. Russell" will be with you soon after you receive 

Congress has given swords to the officers engaged in the battle at 
Rio Grande, and promoted [Zachary] Taylor to be Brigadier Gen- 
eral, with the Brevet of Major General. Col. Kearney is in New 
Mexico with 5000 men. I trust that you have fully recovered your 
health. Yours truly, 

J. C. Fremont 
Lt. Colonel U. S. Army 
Lieutenant Kerne 
Fort Sacramento 

ALS, RC (Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, N.J.). 

1. Joseph E. Foster, who was killed a few weeks later at the battle of 
Natividad with Charles D. Burrass and Hiram Ames. 

2. William H. Russell (1802-73), sometimes known as "Owl" Russell, 
was a new arrival in California, having come in August from Missouri with 
a party of emigrants. A lawyer, he had served as representative for Nicholas 
County in the Kentucky legislature and as U.S. marshal for the District of 
Missouri. He was to become a major in the California Battalion, help frame 
the Treaty of Cahuenga, and serve JCF as secretary of state. Upon the demise 
of the JCF administration, Russell went back to the States by the southern 
route and became a principal witness for the explorer in his court-martial. 
He returned to California in 1849 and practiced law in San Jose and else- 
where. For additional biographical details, see morgan, 2:460-61. 

78. John B. Montgomery to Fremont 

U. S. Ship Portsmouth 
San Francisco, Nov. 3rd. 1846 

By Captain Libby of Tasso^ I forward you 8,000 rifle percussion 
caps, two thousand having been served to troops who are soon to join 
you. More can not be obtained at this place. The whole stock of lead 


in the market and our ships supply has been exhausted in furnishing 
balls to recruits. A small quantity of Rifle powder, in canisters, re- 
mains in the hands of Mr. Melius" which can be had if wanted. 

We are today transporting horses from Sausalito to this place, and 
I hope in a few days that a strong Party and Caballada will proceed 
to Monterey. 
In haste, I am Sir Respy. Your Obt. Servt., 

Jno. B. Montgomery 
Commanding Northn. Dept. & U. S. Ship Portsmouth 

Please sign & return me the enclosed receipt. 


Lt. Col. J. C. Fremont 

Military Commandant of California, Monterey 

Lbk (DNA-45, no. 22, Officers' Letters, Letterbooks of J. B. Montgomery). 

1. Capt. Elliot Libbey, master of the Tasso in 1845-48 and of the Com- 
modore Shubric\ in 1847. A note in JCF.'s name, but written and signed by 
William H. Russell (to Capt. John B. Montgomery), 4 Nov. 1846, from 
Yerba Buena, asks Montgomery to pay William H. Davis the value of 15,000 
percussion caps bought for the U.S. troops "under my command and sent 
to my headquarters in the bark Tasso" (CtY). William Heath Davis (1822- 
1909) had just established himself as a merchant in San Francisco, but he 
had been in and out of California for many years, acting as clerk and agent 
for various commercial firms. For a biography of this Honolulu-born son of 
a Boston shipmaster, see rolle f 1 ] . Davis's own history of events and life 
in California may be found in his Seventy-five Years in California (San 
Francisco, 1929). 

2. Henry Melius (1815-60) made his first voyage to California in 1835 on 
the Pilgrim with Richard Henry Dana. He settled permanently in California 
in 1839 as the agent or supercargo of the vessels of William Appleton and 
Co. In 1845 he formed a partnership with W. D. M. Howard and amassed a 
considerable fortune through the firm of Melius & Howard in the San 
Francisco region. 

79. John B. Montgomery to Fremont 

U. S. Ship Portsmouth 
Yerba buena, Nov. 4th. 1846. 

The following arms have been purchased by this ship & have been 
issued to the men whose names are specified. 
One Rifle for $20 to Robt. Neil 


One Rifle for $25 to Peter (an Indian) 

One Rifle for $25 to George Smith 

Eight Rifles deHvered to Capt. Grigsby for which he has given his 
receipt (bill not rendered). The men, Neil, Peter, & Smith, have 
signed receipts for their rifles. 

Besides the above arms purchased there have been delivered of 
arms brought from Sonoma, the following for which receipts are 

To Amasa Heit [Hoyt?] one musket 

To C. F. Caldwell one musket 

To J. C. Furgason [Ferguson] one musket 

To Jno. Frederick one musket 

To Andrew Farley one shot rifle 

To George Coats one carbine 

To Thomas Frith [Firth?] one carbine 

To Frank Wilcox one carbine 

Each Recruit who has passed through the ship has been furnished 
with caps to make up 115 [15?] (Percussion) & from one to two lbs. 
of lead, with a horn of rifle powder beside such clothing as the store 
room of the ship could furnish; of the latter, I send you herewith a 
statement of amounts, issued to the Volunteers, as set opposite their 
respective names to be deducted from their accounts in final settle- 
ment. I am Respy. Yr. Obt. Servt. 

Jno. B. Montgomery 
Comdg. Northn. Dept. of Calia. 
& of the U. S. Ship Portsmouth 

Lt. Col. J. C. Fremont 
Military Comdt. of California 

Lbk (DNA-45, no. 22, Officers' Letters, Letterbooks of }. R. Montgomery). 

80. Fremont to Jacob Antoine Mocrenhout 

Monterey, November 7th. 1846 

Two communications addressed by yourself to Captain William 
A. Maddox, Commandant of Monterey, have been referred by him 
for my consideration.^ 


From the representation made to me by Captain Maddox, I am 
satisfied that the claim for damages which has been brought for- 
ward, is highly exaggerated, and altogether unfounded in fact. I 
have accordingly directed him to furnish this office with a certified 
statement of the case, which appears clearly sufficient to invalidate 
the claim." 

In the present disorganized condition of the country, when the 
civil officers have been suspended in the exercise of their usual func- 
tions, the French Consul could not have reasonably expected that 
subjects of his nation should continue in the enjoyments of their 
customary political and commercial privileges, or that any exception 
in their favor should be made from such restrictions and regulations 
as to the military authorities of the Territory might appear ex- 
pedient and salutary. 

As the French Consul appears to entertain very different views, 
his farther residence at Monterey would evidently create embarrass- 
ment and lead to a frequent correspondence, for which, at this time, 
there can be neither the necessary leisure nor disposition. 

Reminding Mr. Moerenhout that he is accredited to the Mexican 
Department of California, and that the present exercise of his func- 
tions is due only from the courtesy of the officer representing the 
United States, I have judged it advisable and proper to enclose a 
passport to San Francisco, in the hope that, as it would be very satis- 
factory to the authorities now in this Department, it would not be 
disagreeable to the French Consul to transport his office to that 

Availing myself of this occasion to offer to Mr. Moerenhout the as- 
surance of my great personal consideration, I am, very respectfully, 

(Signe) J. C. Fremont, 

Lieut. Colonel U. States Army, and 

Military Commandant of the 

Territory of California 

Mr. J. A. Moerenhout, 

Consul for His Majesty the King of the French 

Copy enclosed in R. B. Mason to R. Jones, 28 March 1849, transmitting 
procedures of board of officers investigating complaint by the French minister 
(DNA-94, LR, M-376 1849). A copy is also in DNA-45, Area 9 File, Pacific. 
Author of the celebrated Voyages aux ties du grand ocean (Paris, 1837), 
Jacob Antoine Moerenhout (ca. 1797-1879) had arrived in California in 
Oct. 1846 to take up his duties as French consul. He came from Tahiti, where 


he had been engaged in trade and where he had represented as consular 
agent not only France but also the United States for a short time. For a 
biographical sketch, see nasatir, 12:155-58. 

1. The first letter of Moerenhout to Maddox, commander at Monterey, 4 
Nov. 1846, complained of the revocation of a permit previously given to 
Clement Panaud to take care of business interests in San Jose. The French 
consul charged that the revocation was made on the "frivolous" pretext that 
Panaud had two pistols in his house in Monterey. The second letter, dated 
7 Nov., noted JCF's discourtesy in failing to reply (Maddox had told 
Moerenhout that the matter had been referred to JCF) and informed Maddox 
that he maintained "all the rights of the Frenchman, Panaud, who is ex- 
posed to total ruin, in consequence of the severe measures adopted towards 
him by the American authorities." Copies of Moerenhout's letter to Maddox 
are in R. B. Mason to R. Jones, 28 March 1849 (DNA-94, LR, M-376 1849). 

2. The American version was that Panaud had been arrested because he 
was carrying pistols, contrary to the order of the military commandant that 
only those in the service of the United States could bear arms. 

81. Jacob Antoine Moerenhout to Fremont 

To Lieut. Colonel Fremont 

Military Commandant of the Territory of California 

Consulate of France at Monterey 
Monterey, November 8th. 1846 

The Undersigned, Consul of France at Monterey, has received the 
letter which Lieut. Col. Fremont, Military Commandant of the 
Territory of California did him the honor to address to him, under 
date of yesterday. The Undersigned considers it his duty to observe 
to the Colonel, in reply — 

(1) That the invoice which he had the honor to present to Capt. 
Maddox is an exact copy of the original, which M. Panaud gave 
him, and which he declares to be true.^ 

(2) That he has required nothing of an exceptional nature in 
favor of the people of his nation; that he limited himself to soliciting 
verbally, from Capt. Maddox some slight favors for Frenchmen, 
such as receipts for horses which had been taken from them, or per- 
mits for those who, having come to Monterey on business, wished to 
return to their residences at Santa Cruz. 

(3) That so far from having wished to render himself trouble- 
some, or importunate, as Colonel Fremont seems to intend to insinu- 


ate, the Undersigned, notwithstanding the injuries suffered by his 
countrymen, has made but one request officially, and in writing in 
favor of Panaud, because in withdrawing from the said Panaud the 
permit given him by Capt. Maddox to go to the interior, he has been 
gratuitously wronged, and has been exposed by this severe measure 
to the loss of the goods which he had despatched, as also of others 
which he had on the way, and at San Jose and at Santa Cruz. 

It will doubtless appear very strange, that, for such acts, and in a 
case in which the Undersigned has remained strictly within the 
duties and attributes of his office, he should receive notice that it would 
be proper for him to change his residence and his Consulate. The 
Undersigned has therefore the honor to send back to Col. Fremont 
the permit of Captain Maddox, as, being the Consul of His Majesty 
the King of the French, in this country, it is only the King of the 
French or his Government which can order him to change his resi- 
dence. The Undersigned will nevertheless make known to his Gov- 
ernment the invitation to this effect, which he has received from Col. 
Fremont, in his character of Military Commandant of the Territory 
of California. 

With regard to the paragraph of Col. Fremont's letter in which he 
says that the Undersigned is only accredited to California, a Depart- 
ment of Mexico, the Undersigned acknowledges that he does not 
comprehend it entirely, but although he does not consider himself 
required to give any explanation on this subject here, he will add, 
that, having been appointed Consul for His Majesty the King of the 
French for this country since the month of April, 1845, he has natur- 
ally received, at the request of his Government, his exequatur from 
the President of the Republic of Mexico. With regard to the favor- 
able reception given to him by Commodore Stockton, the Under- 
signed made it his duty, as it was his pleasure, to announce the fact 
himself to his Government. 

The Undersigned will conclude this letter, by protesting against 
the official measure which Col. Fremont has adopted, and, as he can- 
not regard it as otherwise than as shewing a formal intention to in- 
timidate him, & to suspend the free exercise of the principal and 
almost the only attributes of his office, those of protecting and defend- 
ing the interests of his countrymen, the Undersigned conceives it to 
be his duty to inform Col. Fremont, that he will take the first oc- 
casion to make known to the French Government the manner in 
which his complaints and his official acts have been treated, support- 


ing his statement by the correspondence and other documents relat- 
ing thereto. 

The Undersigned prays Colonel Fremont to accept the assurance 
of his high consideration. 


Consul of France 

Copy of a translated version enclosed in R. B. Mason to R. Jones, 28 
March 1849, transmitting procedures of board of officers investigating com- 
plaint by the French minister (DNA-94, LR, M-376 1849). See also copy in 
French in DNA-45, Area 9 File, Pacific. 

1. JCF's view was that Panaud's claim was "grossly false" (see Fremont to 
Marcy, 28 Sept. 1847, Doc. No. 223) and that referring it "had been a con- 
spiracy to defraud." If Panaud did have a valid — though greatly exaggerated 
— claim, as Larkin seemed to think, he renounced it on 10 Nov. "voluntarily 
and without any compulsion" (see enclosure in Fremont to Secretary of War, 
4 Oct. 1847, Doc. No. 225; testimony of Larkin, 21 July 1848, in report of 
board of officers, enclosed in R. B. Mason to R. Jones, 28 March 1849, DNA- 
94, LR, M-376 1849). Moerenhout, however, wrote a different story to the 
French Minister of Foreign Affairs: "He [Fremont] called M. Panaud before 
the judge and several officers, and after having greatly intimidated him, espe- 
cially on account of a slight error in the [his] account, he made him sign a 
written agreement by [which] he renounced all demands for indemnity. On 
this condition they gave him a permit to take himself and his servants to San 
Jose and Santa Cruz to transact his business, and a receipt for the horses 
that they had taken from him." Panaud, who had only yielded on account of 
fear in signing these agreements, believed it wise not to go himself to Santa 
Cruz (Moerenhout to Minister of Foreign Affairs, 22 Nov. 1846, nasatir, 

82. Fremont to John B. Montgomery 

Monterey, November 10th. 1846 

I acknowledge the receipt of your letters of the 29th and 30th 
ultimo, and at the same time express to you my great gratification 
and thanks for your assistance which I assure you contrasts remark- 
ably with the apparent inactivity of our officers in the north. None 
of the men you forwarded to the Pueblo have yet come in and I have 
reed, no communication whatever from Mr. [Lansford W.] Hastings 
or Capt. Weaver.^ I experience much embarrassment in the apparent 
irresponsibility of officers who make no reports of their position or 


proceedings. In the meantime the rainy season is setting in rapidly 
and we shall certainly suffer by our delay. 

We are much in want of several articles which I am informed the 
Euphemia" has just brought to San Francisco and I will beg of you 
the favor to purchase for me by the enclosed list. On it I have placed 
some articles which possibly you can spare me from the stores of the 
Portsmouth. I will arrange with Mr. Larkin to pay to your order the 
amount of purchase from the Euphemia. 

I have been informed that you are about to cause to be sold the 
Julia Ann, a prize brought in by the Warren,^ and one of my princi- 
pal reasons in sending to you this courier is to know if some arrange- 
ment cannot be made by which she may be put at my disposition. 
Such a vessel would be of great importance to operate in communi- 
cation with us along the coast, and for many things and in many 
cases would be invaluable. 

I make this enquiry and these suggestions with some reserve, not 
knowing how far my proposition may be consistent with other ar- 
rangements, or proprieties of service. At all events I hope you may be 
induced to delay the sale. 

An apology will be necessary for troubling you with so many 
requests, but I hope you will find it in the fact, that these things are 
really of great importance to me, and I cannot elsewhere apply with 
the confidence that they will be attended to properly. Out of various 
rumors, the most reliable intelligence here is that Com. Stockton 
has entered the Pueblo without opposition. One of our horseguards 
was fired upon and wounded by the Californians a few days since— 
an inexperienced man who was off his post. 

I thank you for your congratulations on my promotion. To me, it 
was the more agreeable because entirely unexpected. 

I hope the courier will arrive in time to enable you to forward the 
articles I have asked for by Mr. Brennan ;^ if not I will send to the 
Pueblo of San Jose for them. Would it not be advisable to put an 
embargo on the munitions of war brought by the Euphemia and on 
all others? Very truly & Respectfully, 

J. C. Fremont, 
Lt. Colonel U. S. Army, & Commandant of California 

Captain J. B. Montgomery 

Military Commandant Northern Department & 

Commanding U. S. Ship Portsmouth 


Two Hufidred thousand percussion caps — I am informed that the 
Euphemia brings three or four hundred thousand. 
0716 thousand lbs. American lead. 
Any holster pistols or sabres 
One Hundred prs. blankets. 

10 or 15 cases of canister (if of lead) and small Grape shot. 
30 yds stout cotton canvass. 

ALS, RC (DNA-45, Area 9 File, Pacific). Endorsed. 

1. JCF undoubtedly means Capt. Charles M. Weber (1814-81), successful 
San lose businessman and owner of Rancho Campo de los Franceses. He was 
engaged in the work of collecting horses and supplies for the California 
Battalion. Because of his hostility to ICF, he declined to serve in the battalion, 
but was made captain of the San lose Volunteers, duvall, 72, is of the opin- 
ion that Weber's means of commandeering mounts and equipment were 
sometimes obnoxious and unjustifiable. For an excellent sketch of Weber's 
life, see hammond & morgan. 

2. The Euphemia was a Hawaiian brig of 150 tons with Thomas Russum, 
an EngUshman, as master and WilUam Heath Davis as supercargo and part 

3. The 133-ton schooner ]ulia Ann may have been brought into port by 
the Warren, but she had been captured off La Paz in Sept. 1846 by the 
Cyane (E. L. Stetson to Larkin, 28 Sept. 1846, larkin, 5:253-54). colton, 
125, describes her as "a beautiful vessel," riding "the water like a duck" and 
sailing "with the speed of the wind," her masts raking "to an angle that 
might startle a Baltimore clipper." 

4. Probably Samuel Brannan (1819-89), Mormon elder who had arrived 
at Verba Buena on the Brooklyn, 31 luly 1846, with a colony of approximately 
240 Saints. For a biography, see bailey. 

5. At the bottom of the enclosure is a note on the action taken with regard 
to ICF's request: "Forwarded of the within 407 lbs. of lead purchased on 
shore, a quantity of loose grape shot (268 lbs.) (copper) from the Port and 
a number of rifles furnished by Mr. Leidesdorff. Sent to Santa Clara by boat 
Novr., 13th." 

83. John B. Montgomery to Fremont 

U. S. Ship Portsmouth 
San Francisco, Nov. 13th. 1846 

Your letter by courier of the 10th inst. reached me yesterday & 
after the most diligent search & enquiring on Shore & among the 
Shipping I find it impossible to obtain the articles named in your 


memorandum as needed for the public Service except 407 lbs. of 
lead purchased from the Euphemia. None of the articles required 
(owing to the extensive requisitions recently made upon the Ports- 
mouth) being included in our present list of Stores on board. Loose 
copper Grape shot can be supplied from the post a moderate quan- 
tity of which I have directed to be put up in bags or barrels to be for- 
warded to the Pueblo of San Jose in one of my boats with the lead & 
a number of rifles sent by Mr, Leidesdorff where I think you had 
best send for them if you can as I am not apprised of there being any 
other means by which they can be safely forwarded to Monterey. 

I regret exceedingly Sir that the circumstances attending the posi- 
tion of the prize Schooner Julia at present filled with captured mer- 
chandise leaves me no power to comply with your requisition for her 
service in the manner proposed except in a case of extreme necessity. 
She cannot be sold until after condemnation & no adjudication in 
her case can be effected until ordered by the Commander in Chief 
who is not yet apprised of her capture. 

I hope that all the volunteers & caballada from the Pueblo & fort 
Sacramento will have reached Monterey swelling your force to more 
than five hundred before you receive this. 

From the Pueblo I have heard they were to move yesterday 

I am now about to transfer the charge of this Department to Capt. 
Joseph B. Hull of the Warren & shall only await the arrival of bread 
to leave this port for more active tho' perhaps not more important & 
stirring service than has fallen to our lot during the war.^ 

I will now close Sir with a matter of intelligence brought by the 
Warren which I have no doubt may be relied upon, viz. That Col. 
Kearny who entered San Fe with five thousand men some months 
since has despatched from there one thousand mounted riflemen for 
service in Calia. I cherish the hope that you may fall in with them 
before you return from the south. With sentiments of respect I am 
your Ob't. Serv't. 

Jno. B. Montgomery 
Military Comdt. of Calia. & 
Comdr. of the U. S. Portsmouth 
Lt. Col. J. C. Fremont 
Military Commandant of California, Monterey 

Lbk (DNA-45, no. 22, Officers' Letters. Letterbooks of J. R. Montgomery). 
1. Montgomery and the Portsmouth did not soil for San Diego until 5 Dec. 


The further delay in turning over the command and governorship of the 
"Northern District" to Hull was due to the loss of a launch from the Warren 
with Montgomery's sons, William H. and John E., aboard. Bound for the 
Sacramento on 13 Nov., the launch carried a crew and money to pay the 
garrison at Sutter's Fort. Neither boat nor crew was ever heard from again, 
and the presumption was that the craft was upset and the men drowned. 
But many believed that the crew mutinied, murdered the Montgomerys, and 
made ofT with the payroll (downey, 73-78; Rogers [2], 87-91). 

84. William Mervine to Fremont 

U. S. Frigate Savannah 
Bay of Monterey, November 14th. 1846 

I am directed by Commodore R. F. Stockton, in the event of find- 
ing you here, to offer you any assistance that I can possibly give, to 
prepare you for the campaign ; and to say that, "having failed after 
every exertion to reach Monterey to join you at the time specified in 
your letter of the 27th October," he, "concluded to return to San 
Diego as the most certain and speediest means of rejoining you."^ 

I have an Iron 4 Pounder — Ship Gun — mounted upon a good pair 
of cart wheels ; also two new pairs of cart wheels and axles which are 
at your service. Respectfully &c. &c. 

William Mervine 

Lbk (DNA-45, Letterbooks of Oflflcers at Sea, E-14 (A), William Mervine, 
vol. 1, 1846). Capt. William Mervine (1791-1868), in command of the 
Savannah, was still smarting from a defeat by the Californians. After the 
Angelenos revolted and drove out Archibald Gillespie and his forces, Stockton 
ordered Mervine to sail south and give the Americans aid. Landing at San 
Pedro on 7 Oct., Mervine and a portion of his crew joined Gillespie's men and 
advanced on Los Angeles, only to be outmaneuvered and pounded by a small 
cannon. He was forced to retreat to his ship and await the arrival of Stockton, 
and all of southern California slipped back into the hands of the local 
citizens. Although he had been sent north to give whatever aid JCF might 
need in preparing for his march to Los Angeles, he took no further active 
part in the war. He did remain in the Navy — an enemy of Gillespie's — and 
retired as a rear admiral in 1866 (marti, 87-91, 122-23; ames [1]). 

1. Stockton was eventually able to "buoy the bar" and get the Congress into 
the harbor of San Diego. He was there when Edward Stokes arrived on 3 
Dec. with a letter from Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny at Warner's rancho. The 
letter advised him of the general's approach and expressed the wish that 
Stockton send a party to open communications with him (Kearny to Stockton, 
2 Dec. 1846, ct. martial, 186). 


85. Fremont to William Mervine 

Monterey, November 14th. 1846 

I have the honor to acknowledge your communications of yester- 
day and this morning, in which you desire to be informed if the 
present strength of the garrison is adequate to the protection of 
the place, and farther offer me any aid in your power from the 

In my opinion the force under command of Capt. Wm. A. Mad- 
dox is insufficient to the successful defence of the fort and the pro- 
tection of the town: a reinforcement of thirty men and an officer, 
would enable him to maintain both, and render the presence of a 
Ship of War unnecessary.^ 

I am informed that a prize Brig called the Julia Ann has been 
brought by the Warren to San Francisco, and farther informed that 
she would probably be sold at that place. Such a vessel would be of 
great importance to operate in communication along the coast, and 
would otherwise be extremely serviceable: if therefore, no other dis- 
position of her has been already made, I would suggest to you that 
she be fitted out in such capacity, and that the Commanding Officer 
be accordingly directed to cooperate with and report to me for duty. 

The circumstances of the country will render it advisable to de- 
tail a force from the Squadron for the occupation of the Pueblo of 
San Jose, which will operate effectually to check the inhabitants 
between Monterey and San Francisco: Our movement to the South- 
ward will necessarily leave the interior exposed. 

I feel pleasure in expressing my thanks for the aid you have af- 
forded me, and am With much respect &c. &c. &c. 

J. C. Fremont 
Col. U. S. Army & Military Commdt. of California 

Capt. William Mervine 
Comdg. U. S. Frigate Savannah 


I am unable to account for the delay which the men sent to me by 
Capt. Montgomery are making at the Pueblo of San Jose. I would be 
under much obligation to you, if you would send to Captain Charles 
Webber [Weber], who is now at San Jose, a positive and absolute or- 


der to march immediately, with all the Volunteers who may have 
entered the service of the United States, and join me at Monterey, or 
wherever else I may designate. 

Those men who have not procured saddles can procure them on 
joining me. Ut. Supra. 

J. C. Fremont 

Lbk (DNA-45, Letterbooks of Officers at Sea, E-14 (D), Correspondence 
of William Mervine, vol. 8, 1846). 

1. The next day Mervine ordered Midshipman Alexander B. Abercrombie 
"with a detachment of thirty Seaman & ordinary Seamen" from the Savannah 
to report to Lieut. William A. T. Maddox at Monterey (Mervine to Aber- 
crombie, 15 Nov. 1846, DNA-45, Letterbooks of Officers at Sea, E-14 (A), 
William Mervine, vol. 1, 1846). 

86. William Mervine to Fremont 

U. S. Frigate Savannah 
Bay of Monterey, Nov. 15th. 1846 

Agreeably to your request, I send you William Miller,^ 1st class 
Musician, with his account" enclosed herewith. He is desirous of be- 
ing permanently transferred to your command, but that must receive 
the sanction of the Commander in Chief. Very Respectfully &c. 

&c. &c. 

William Mervine 
Lieut. Col. J. C. Fremont 
Military Comdt. of California 

Lbk (DNA-45, Letterbooks of Officers at Sea, E-14 (A), William Mervine, 
vol. 1, 1846). 

1. William D. Miller became a bugler for JCF (downey, 128-31). 

2. Not found. 


87. Fremont to William Mervine 

Monterey, November 16th. 1846 

Dear Sir, 

I understand that, under the opinion that we had already com- 
menced our march to the Southard, some persons in the Sacramento 
are engaged in forming a battalion to act as a reserve. Such a course 
will naturally weaken our forces, be of no manner of service to us, 
and create a large additional expenditure, for which we shall not be 

The Warren has not brought a Dollar, but for reasons you will 
immediately perceive, this should not be made public here. 

I therefore, suggest that, all additional enlistments should by an 
express order from yourself, be immediately discontinued through- 
out the Territory, — making an exception of the recruiting officers 
appointed by me, and who will soon be in — and that all men now 
enlisted immediately report to me at St. Johns, it being intended that 
the different Posts should be garrisoned by troops from the Squad- 
rons. It cannot be expected that we should ration the families of 
Emigrants who do not aid me in the field. 

I respectfully urge upon you the propriety and necessity of having 
it clearly understood that no persons will be received or paid who do 
not engage in the service of and report to the Military Commandant 
of the Country. 

By giving me your aid in this way the public service will receive 
material benefit. 

At present I am much harrassed by numerous appointments of ir- 
responsible men, who obey nobody, and are more often drunk than 

I find that Webber [Weber] desires to remain at the Pueblo, and 
with your permission I will arrange the business between him and 

I am glad that the day signals recurred to you, we will act ac- 

I am indebted to you for the painting on our Flag — it is hand- 
some, and if you will permit it, I should like to compensate the artist. 
Very Respectfully &c. &c. &c. 

}. C. Fremont 
Lt. Col. U. S. Army 


Captain Wm. Mervine 

Senior Officer Northn. California. 

U. S. Ship Congress [Savannah] &c. 

Lbk (DNA-45, Letterbooks of Officers at Sea, E-14 (D), Correspondence 
of William Mervine, vol. 8, 1846). 

1. Mervine had already directed John B. Montgomery to send a "positive 
order" to Captain Weber to join JCF with every volunteer in Monterey, and 
to have Lansford W. Hastings remain at San Jose for the time being (Mervine 
to Montgomery, 15 Nov. 1846, DNA-45, Area 9 File, Pacific). And this 
Montgomery did, although he indicated that if it were still "impracticable" 
for Weber to do so, he might remain in command at San Jose (Montgomery 
to Charles M. Weber, 18 Nov. 1846, CSmH). Weber remained at San Jose; 
Hastings went south to join JCF at Monterey. 

88. William Mervine to Fremont 

U. S. Frigate Savannah 
Bay of Monterey, Nov. 16th. 1846 

Your letter of this date is received, and as I am much engaged just 
now^ in preparing to get underw^eigh, you will excuse my saying 
more than, that, all the suggestions contained therein shall be at- 
tended to. 

You can make the arrangements you speak of with respect to 

Your Requisitions have be [en] complied with, with the exception 
of substituting "catridges" for "tube Boxes." Very Respectfully &c. 
&c. &c. 

Wm. Mervine 
Capt. U. S. Navy 
Lieut. Col. J. C. Fremont 
U. S. A. & Military Comdt. of California 

Lbk (DNA-45, Letterbooks of Officers at Sea, E-14 (A), William Mervine, 
vol. 1, 1846). 


89. Fremont to Charles M. Weber 

Mission of San Juan 
Nov 19th 1846 

As we are exceedingly in want of horses and mules, You will 
please deliver to Lieut Wm. Blackburn^ all that have been collected 
by yourself or other officers under your command. I am anxiously 
awaiting the arrival of those men, from the neighborhood of the 
Pueblo, that Capt. Mervine informed me would be ordered to join 
my command. I am, Very Respectfully Your Obt. Servt. 

(Signed) J. C. Fremont 
Lt Col Comdg. Calif. Battalion & Mil. Comdt. California 

Capt. Chas. Weber 
Pueblo San Jose 

Copy (CSmH). JCF had come from Monterey, where he had been or- 
ganizing, equipping, and provisioning his California Battalion, to the Mission 
San Juan Bautista. Tom Hill, a Delaware Indian scout, and Charley Mcintosh, 
a half-breed, had slipped through the enemy lines to bring information on the 
plight of two small American forces which had met a large group of 
Californians on 16 Nov. The encounter became known as the battle of 
Natividad, as it was fought principally on the Rancho Natividad, which ad- 
joined the Gomez rancho where Thomas Oliver Larkin had been captured 
by a Castro detachment on the night of 15-16 Nov. JCF gives some details 
of the battle in his 20 Nov. letter to Kern (Doc. No. 90). See also rogers 
fl], 29:336-41. 

1. Second Lieut. William Blackburn (1814-67), of Company A artillery, 
was a Virginia cabinetmaker who immigrated to California in 1845. Before 
joining the battalion, he served in the Fauntleroy dragoons. When peace 
came, he settled in Santa Cruz and served as alcalde and later as county 
judge before turning his attention to agriculture (pioneer register). 

90. Fremont to Edward M. Kern 

Mission St. John's, Nov. 20. 1846 
My dear Sir, 

I received your note by Mr. Burrus [Burrass], taken from his per- 
son after he was killed.^ The party which he commanded in con- 


junction with one of 25 under Lieut. Thompson^ encountered a 
Californian force 150 strong, at the mouth of the Gomez Canada, on 
the Salinas plain. The Californians were defeated, losing 10-20 
killed and a considerable number wounded. They carried their 
wounded and some of their dead. Ten of the latter were counted on 
the field. We have lost in killed four; viz, Capt. Burruss, Joseph [E.] 

Foster, Hiram Ames and Cooper; two severely wounded and 

others slightly — all now doing well.^ The Californians were ran 
about 2 miles and night stopped the fight. Our men acted nobly but 
very imprudently; only forty of them were in the fight when they 
charged. We have lost good men."* Tell the Wallawalah chiefs that 
his men fought bravely and none of them were hurt. Tom Hill 
killed three Californians and received two slight wounds.*' I wish 
you [to indicate to him] (I have promised this to the Walawalahs) 
that his men cannot get back in a moon & a half [sketch of a moon 
and a half-moon]. It will require 2 moons. I desire you to supply the 
families of those Walawalahs who are with me, with beef and flour 
regularly; and to give regular rations to Jeandrois' [Gendreau's] 

I regret exceedingly that you cannot be with me, and sympathize 
with your bad health, but hope the cool weather will relieve you.^ I 
shall leave this in a few days. We expect close skirmishing and one 
hard fight. At this time we are over 300 men and shall have four 
pieces of artillery. I hope yet that Capt. Sutter will arrive with his 
Indians — if they do not join us here they can be of no service.^ 
Yours truly, 

J. C. Fremont 
Lieut Kerne 
Commanding Sacramento District 

P. S. Talbot and his party are with us. 

ut Supra. 
We heard cannon last evening at Monterey — I left that place 3 
days since — Captain Maddox is in command there with 125 men, 
and 6 pieces artillery. Merrit recaptured San Diego without loss — 25 
men against 80-120 Californians.'^ 

ut Supra 

ALS, RC (CSmH). 

1. Charles D. Burrass was bringing twenty-two men, a cannon, and a 
large drove of horses and mules from the Sacramento district to augment 


JCF's battalion and supplies at Monterey. Nineteen-year-old Edward Kemble, 
a participant in the battle of Natividad, in an article appearing in the 
California Star, 21 Aug. 1847 (reprinted in e. c. kemble, 59-64), reported 
that ten Walla Wallas "under the command of one Brennard" and two 
Delawares were attached to the Sacramento company. Brennard has not been 
identified, and it is possible that Kemble, who soon became editor of the 
Star, made an error. According to Sutter (dillon, 254), Franqois Gendreau 
was captain of the Walla Walla detachment, and Gendreau's name appears on 
the roster of the California Battalion. The letter above implies that Gendreau 
was in command of the Walla Wallas. 

2. Bluford K. Thompson, who was actually captain — not lieutenant — of 
Company G, California Battalion, had recruited a motley party of rancheros, 
runaway sailors, Negroes, Englishmen, and Germans at San Jose for JCF's 
battalion. A gambler by profession, Thompson was later acquitted of a 
murder charge but was obliged to leave California in 1848. He was himself 
killed in a new quarrel on the Sweetwater. 

3. Like Burrass and Thompson, Joseph E. Foster, sometimes called 
"Captain," and St. Louisan Hiram Ames were also 1846 immigrants to 
California. William Thorne, not Cooper, was killed at Natividad, although 
he may have been called Billy the Cooper (rogers [1], 29:338; Rogers [3]). 
Wounded were James Cash, William McGlone, Henry Marshall, and James 

4. JCF's battalion sustained its greatest losses of the war here at Natividad. 

5. Piopiomoxmox or Yellow Serpent was the chief of a band of forty war- 
riors and their families who came back to New Helvetia in Sept. 1846 to 
hunt, trade for cattle, and visit the grave of Elijah, the chief's son, slain 
more than a year before by an American residing in California. Rumors that 
the warriors numbered 250 and were coming in vengeance brought terror 
to the American community, and many preparations were made to meet the 
invasion (see revere, 148-63; heizer; ames & hussev). On 11 Aug. 1847 
Joseph Libbey Folsom, chief of the Quartermaster Department station at San 
Francisco, reported to William T. Sherman that JCF, on his way out of 
California with General Kearny in June 1847, had given the Walla Walla 
Indians about a hundred of the public horses in payment for their services 
in the war. 

6. Tom Hill (ca. 1811-ca. 1860), a Delaware scout, had been one of Kit 
Carson's men in 1834. In 1839 he joined a band of Nez Perce Indians living 
in the buffalo country of Montana and in 1846 was part of the so-called 
Walla Walla invasion of California. Following his adventure as a scout for 
Burrass, he became a scout with JCF's forces on the winter march through 
rain and mud to Los Angeles (haines). 

7. In a letter of 2 Nov. 1846 George McKinstry, Jr., wrote Pierson B. 
Reading that Edward M. Kern was in bed at Fort Sutter "shaking finely 
with the chills" (morgan, 1:217). 

8. Sutter was recruiting Indians on the Stanislaus and Mokelumne rivers — 
"old horse thieves who had reformed," as he termed them (dillon, 254). He 
also helped enlist a company of native California Indians to serve at New 
Helvetia and thus release the old garrison for service in the south. 

9. San Diego had been recaptured sometime between 8 and 1 1 Oct. by a 
small force variously reported as twenty-five or forty men, including John 
Bidwell and sailors from the whaler Stonington. The assault was commanded 
by Ezekiel Merritt. On appeal by Merritt for reinforcements, Mervine at San 


Pedro chartered the whaler Magnolia out of New Bedford and sent it with 
Lieut. George Minor, two midshipmen, thirty-five sailors, and fifteen volun- 
teers dashing to the rescue. This group landed near the mouth of the San 
Diego River and built fortifications, but for some time San Diego was a 
no-man's-land. The Americans were unable to dislodge the Mexicans from 
the hilltops or to procure cattle and horses. For an account of the siege of 
San Diego, see pourade, 3:87-94. Ezekiel Merritt had commanded the 
party that seized Arce's horses in June and organized the Bear Flaggers' 
descent on Sonoma. 

91. William Mervine to Fremont 

U. S. Frigate Savannah 
Bay of San Francisco, Nov. 21st. 1846 

The state of the country on my arrival here was represented to be 
such as to render the landing of the Brass Gun at the Embarcadero 
of Santa Clara extremely hazardous, without a sufficient force to es- 
cort it down to you, which could not be spared.^ I have, therefore, 
sent it down in the "Julia", and hope it will arrive in time; if not, it 
will remain on board the Schooner, and follow you down the coast. 

Manuel Castro is at the head of a party of about sixty men, mau- 
rading about the country. Some of his gang made prisoner of T. O. 
Larkin, during the night of the day after his leaving Monterey.^ 
Very Respectfully &c. &c. &c. 

William Mervine 
Lieut. Col. J. C. Fremont 
Military Commdt. of Calia. 

Lbk (DNA-45, Letterbooks of Officers at Sea, E-14 (A), William Mervine, 
vol. 1, 1846). 

1. Mervine had requested that the brass gun which Capt. Joseph B. Hull 
had taken out of the prize brig Malef{ Adhel be sent to the embarcadero at 
Santa Clara (Mervine to John B. Montgomery, 1 Nov. 1846, DNA-45, Area 
9 File, Pacific). 

2. Larkin had left Monterey on 15 Nov. for San Francisco to be with his 
wife and children after learning that his youngest daughter, Adeline, was 
seriously ill. He stopped for the night at the rancho of Jose Joaquin Gomez, 
and about midnight was captured and escorted on horseback to Manuel 
Castro's camp on the Salinas River. Held as a hostage for several weeks, he 
was taken to Santa Barbara and then to Los Angeles as the Californians 
retreated (larkin, 5:xiv-xv). 


92. Fremont to William Mervine 

St. Johns Mission 
Nov. 27th. 1846 

I have directed all officers, civil and military, who come properly 
within my jurisdiction, to abstain from any farther offensive pro- 
ceedings against the Californians, residing and being in the North- 
ern Department; and that they permit them to pursue their usual 
lawful business without molestation. 

Believing this to be the best as well as most humane course, and 
satisfied of the present peaceable disposition of the greater part of 
the inhabitants here, I have to request that you will sustain it by 
your influence and authority. 

I have given to numbers of residents in this vicinity general pass- 
ports and safeguards, any violation of which will be punished ac- 
cording to the usages of war by a summary Court Martial. 

Some of the proceedings instituted by Captain Charles Weber 
against the people here are very little honorable to the United States, 
and I have publicly and fully disclaimed them as disgraceful. I feel 
certainly assured that nothing of this nature will be countenanced by 
yourself and therefore call your attention to them. 

I am in hopes that Captain Weber will not now have any farther 
power to destroy the people and force out against us those who 
otherwise would have been willing to remain quiet.^ 

I beg to insist strongly upon this subject with you, as I believe that 
any farther hostile measures in the Northern Department are totally 
unnecessary. They will cause unnecessary expense and bloodshed. 
No persons are in arms beyond a few straggling robbers whom a 
small force is sufficient to check and chastise. 

I should feel it unnecessary to make these representations to you 
were the commission of Military Commandant of California re- 
ceived by me from Commodore Stockton, of any authority among 
his Officers: but under the actual circumstances I should feel myself 
humiliated by attaching it to my name. 

I have only therefore to beg of you that you will do me the favor 
to sustain the conciliatory measures which I have judged it advisable 
to adopt here, and that you will cause my passports and safeguards to 
be respected by the officers of this department. Any violation of 


them will certainly be punished to the full extent of the ability that 
law and circumstances may leave in my power. 

We are just about raising camp and I hope in a few weeks to be 
able to send some satisfactory news.^ ^^gg^^ig you to receive the as- 
surances of personal regard I am, Very Respectfully your Obdt. Servt., 

J. C. Fremont 
Lt. Col. U. S. Army Commdg. California Battalion U. S. Troops 

Captain Wm. Mervine 

Senior Captain in North California. 

Commanding U. S. Frigate Savannah, San Francisco 

LS (DNA-45, LR by Secretary of the Navy from Commanding Officers 
of Squadrons, Pacific Squadron, Commodore Stockton, 1846-47). Endorsed. 
The body of the letter was written by Talbot, who, suffering "starvation, 
cold, nakedness and every sort of privation" after being driven from Santa 
Barbara by the Californians under the command of Manuel Garfias, had 
managed to rejoin JCF at Monterey a day or two before the battle of 
Natividad (Talbot to Adelaide Talbot, 15 Jan. 1847, DLC— Talbot Papers). 

1. Weber's methods of requisitioning horses and equipment for JCF met 
resistance, and Henry Melius and W. D. M. Howard in particular protested 
the crippling of their business (John B. Montgomery to Charles M. Weber, 2 
Nov. 1846, CSmH). The commandant of the Northern District actually ap- 
pointed a commission to investigate complaints against Weber, but the order 
was later annulled, and the alcalde of San Jose was directed to take the 
affidavits of the aggrieved. 

2. Shortly after sending off this letter, JCF and his motley battalion 
started from San Juan on their march to Los Angeles to cooperate with Stockton 
against the army of Jose Maria Flores, commanding insurgent forces in the 
south. Flores's design was to confine American naval officers to the seaports 
by the practical technique of driving all stock into the interior, making it im- 
possible for the American Navy to mount and provision a land force. 
"Against the naval force only," JCF wrote, "his plan would have been easily 
successful, but it became impossible when in addition he had against him 
the active force of my command, which cut his plan at the root and turned it 
against himself. I had at my back the constantly increasing emigrant force, 
and the mountains, which I knew better than himself" (memoirs, 593). 

93. Excerpt from the Memoirs 

[28 Nov. 1846-13 Jan. 1847] 

Working and waiting for the reinforcements from the valley, the 
weeks passed on until the end of November, when we moved from 
San Juan, and, halting a few days for our supply of beef catde, took 


up the line of march for Los Angeles. Our route lay up the San 
Benito River, and thence over the hills into the Salinas valley/ The 
march was made under difficult circumstances. Winter weather and 
cold rain-storms for days together; the roads and trails muddy; the 
animals weak for want of food ; the strength of the old grass washed 
out by the rains, and the watery new grass without sustenance. Many 
of the horses, too weak for use, fell out by the way and were left 
behind, and part of the battalion was soon on foot. 

Attached to the battalion was a company of Indians; some Walla- 
wallahs and a few Delawares from the Columbia River, the rest 
Indians from the Sacramento. These were to act as scouts under the 
command of Captain Richard Jacob,* of Louisville, Kentucky. Regu- 
larly during the march a part of this company encamped, without 
fires, one to three miles in advance of the battalion; the other part 
about the same distance in the rear; so that no traveller on the road 
escaped falling into our hands. 

The battalion numbered about four hundred and thirty men." 
Their only provision was the beef which was driven along,^ but this 
was good, and the men were in fine health. Cold weather and the 
exposed marches gave wholesome appetites. Perfect order was main- 
tained on the march and in the camp, and private property was re- 
spected absolutely. No man left the camp without a pass, and the 
column passed over the country without giving reasonable cause for 
complaint to any Californian."* 

In such a march, it may be supposed, there was no superfluity of 
baggage, and the men rode or walked in the rain and slept wet at 
night, but there was surprisingly little complaint and no disorder. 
As always, there were in the command some men who were useless 
and some who were worse, but these were kept under watchful eyes, 
and gave little trouble. In the forepart of the day of the 14th Decem- 
ber I encamped on the mountain near San Luis Obispo. In the after- 
noon I went with William Knight to a point on the hills which 
overlooked the mission, and watched for awhile, but in the distance 
we could discover nothing to indicate whether or not there was a 
force at the place. The night was rainy. Saddling up after nightfall, 
about nine o'clock we surrounded the mission buildings and cap- 
tured the few people found there. Some took to the roofs of the mis- 

* Afterwards Lieutenant-Ciovernor of Kentucky and son-in-law of Senator 


sion, but none got away. To avoid turning the people out of their 
houses in the stormy weather, I quartered the battalion in the mis- 
sion church, putting a regular guard over the altar and church prop- 
erty. We found in the town some frijoles and other vegetables, and 
crushed wheat, which were bought and distributed among the men 
by way of luxuries. 

Upon information, I sent men around the neighborhood, and in 
all some thirty men fell into our hands, among them an officer who 
had been wounded at the Encinal, and Don [Jose de] Jesus Pico,^ 
who was at the head of the insurrection in that quarter. Don Jesus 
had broken his parole, and was put before a court-martial and sen- 
tenced to be shot. 

Among the papers seized here was an original despatch from Gen- 
eral Flores, by which we learned of the action at San Pasqual, but it 
made no mention of the officer commanding on the American side. 

The hour for the execution of Don Jesus Pico had arrived and the 
battalion was drawn up in the plaza in front of my windows. The 
rough travelling had put the men in bad humor and they wanted to 
vent it upon something. They looked upon Pico as in part cause of 
their hardships and wanted to see him die. Don Jesus was about to 
be led out. The door of my room was abruptly opened by Captain 
Owens, who showed in a lady in black, followed by a group of chil- 
dren. They were the wife and children of Pico. She had prevailed 
upon Owens, who was kind as well as brave, to bring her to me. On 
entering the lady threw herself on her knees, she imploring the life 
of her husband, the children crying and frightened. "He did not 
know," she said, "that he was committing such a crime. He went 
with the hijos del pais to defend the country because he was ashamed 
to stay behind when the others went to fight. He did not know it 
was so wrong." I raised her from her knees and told her to go home 
and remain quiet, and I would presently let her know.*^ 

I sent Owens to bring me Don Jesus. He came in with the gray 
face of a man expecting death, but calm and brave, while feeling it is 
near. He was a handsome man, within a few years of forty, with 
black eyes and black hair. I pointed through the window to the 
troops paraded in the square. He knew why they were there. "You 
were about to die," I said, "but your wife has saved you. Go thank 

He fell on his knees, made on his fingers the sign of the cross, and 
said: "I was to die— I had lost the life God gave me— you have given 


me another life. I devote the new life to you." And he did it, 

Don Jesus was a cousin of Don Andres Pico who commanded at 
San Pasqual, and who was married to a lady of the Carrillo family. 
When the march was resumed he accompanied me and remained 
with me until I left California, always an agreeable companion and 
often rendering me valuable service — perhaps sometimes quite un- 
known to myself.^ 

Contracting space requires me here to pass lightly over incidents 
of the march, beyond the Mission.^ On Christmas eve we encamped 
on the ridge of Santa Ines [Ynez] behind Santa Barbara.^ The 
morning of Christmas broke in the darkness of a southeasterly storm 
with torrents of cold rain, which swept the rocky face of the precipi- 
tous mountain down which we descended to the plain. All traces of 
trails were washed away by the deluge of water, and pack-animals 
slid over the rocks and fell down the precipices, blinded by the 
driving rain. In the descent over a hundred horses were lost. At 
night we halted in the timber at the foot of the mountain, the artil- 
lery and baggage strewed along our track, as on the trail of a de- 
feated army. The stormy day was followed by a bright morning, 
with a welcome sun, and gathering ourselves into an appearance of 
order we made our way into the town. There was nothing to oppose 
us, and nothing to indicate hostility; the Californian troops having 
been drawn together in a main body near Los Angeles. I remained 
here some days to refresh the battalion and repair damages. The gun 
crews wanted sights to their guns, and to please them I had the guns 
tried and sighted.^" 

Pending this delay Don Jesus brought me word that a lady wished 
to confer with me. He informed me that she was a woman of some 
age, highly respected and having a strong connection, over which 
she had the influence sometimes accorded to women of high char- 
acter and strong individuality. 


* I had retained only the Christian name of this lady, but in reply to a 
letter I have received the following telegram: 

San Luis Obispo, California, November 10, 1886. 

To General J. C. Fremont, 1310 Nineteenth Street, Washington, D. C. 

Received your letter. The lady who urged you for peace with the Cali- 
fornians at Santa Barbara is Bernarda Ruiz. She died eight years ago. 

J. DE Jesus Pico 

In the interview I found that her object was to use her influence 
to put an end to the war, and to do so upon such just and friendly 
terms of compromise as would make the peace acceptable and en- 
during. And she wished me to take into my mind this plan of 
settlement, to which she would influence her people; meantime, she 
urged me, to hold my hand, so far as possible. Naturally, her char- 
acter and sound reasoning had its influence with me, and I had no 
reserves when I assured her that I would bear her wishes in mind 
to act when the occasion came, and that she might with all con- 
fidence speak on this basis with her friends. Here began the Capitu- 
lation of Couenga [Cahuenga]. 

With damage from hard marching and stormy weather repaired, 
and the men restored by their rest in comfortable quarters to good 
condition and good humor, the march was resumed on the 17th 
[3 Jan.]. On our way across the plain below Santa Barbara a corps 
of observation of the enemy's cavalry, some fifty to one hundred 
men, hovered about us, without doing or receiving any harm. It did 
not come within my policy to have any of them killed, and a few 
shots from our guns that went uncomfortably near dispersed them. 

There is a maritime defile called the Rincoii, about fifteen miles 
south of Santa Barbara and fifteen miles long. A mountain ridge 
here skirts the sea, leaving a narrow beach floored with a hard, parti- 
colored bitumen. The defile was passed without opposition. Here- 
along we were flanked by a gunboat, under the command of Lieu- 
tenant Selden, of the navy, which Commodore Stockton had sent, to 
be of aid to me in some possible emergency.^^ He was watchful over 
the whole situation and prompt to aid wherever he saw an opening. 
On the morning of the 9th Captain [George W.] Hamlyn [Ham- 
ley], master of the Stonmgtofj, which had so useful a part at San 
Diego, came into my camp at "The Willows," below the Rincon.^" 

Captain Hamlyn was the bearer of a despatch to me from Com- 
modore Stockton, whom he had left at San Luis Rey, and passing 
through San Diego had embarked on the brig MaleJ{ Adhel and 
landed at San Buenaventura, which is at the southern entrance of 
the Rincon Pass. He was accompanied by my friend Don Pedro 
Car[r]illo, by whose aid he had found an Indian who guided them 
past the camp of the horsemen who had been observing us, and 
brought them to me at "The Willows." 

This is the letter which he brought me from the commodore: 


[Not reprinted here, but included as Stockton to Fremont, 3 Jan. 
1847, Doc. No. 101.] 

We entered the Pass of San Bernardo [San Fernando] on the 
evening of the 12th/^ expecting to find the enemy there in force, but 
the Cahfornians had fallen back before our advance and the Pass 
w^as undisputed. In the afternoon we encamped at the mission of San 
Fernando/"* the residence of Don Andres Pico, w^ho was at present 
in chief command of the Californian troops. Their encampment was 
within two miles of the mission, and in the evening, Don Jesus, with 
a message from me, made a visit to Don Andres. The next morning, 
accompanied only by Don Jesus, I rode over to the camp of the Cali- 
fornians, and, in a conference with Don Andres, the important 
features of a treaty of capitulation were agreed upon. 

A truce was ordered;^" commissioners on each side appointed; and 
the same day a capitulation agreed upon. This was approved by my- 
self as Military Commandant representing the United States, and 
Don Andres Pico, Commander-in-Chief of the Californians. With 
this treaty of Counega [Cahuenga]^*' hostilities ended, and California 
left peaceably in our possession; to be finally secured to us by the 
treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. 

MEMOIRS, 597-601. Talbot wrote his mother that the battalion left San 
Juan on 26 Nov., but in view of the fact that he dated a letter for JCF to 
William Mervine (Doc. No. 92) from San Juan on 27 Nov., the date of 30 
Nov. as given by McLane is more likely the accurate one (Talbot to Adelaide 
Talbot, 15 Jan. 1847, DLC — Talbot Papers; mc lane, 91). Lieut. Edwin 
Bryant in Company H of the battalion implies that the start was made on 28 
Nov. (bryant, 365-68). Bryant (1805-69), former editor of the Lexington, 
Ky., Reporter, was chiefly responsible for raising Company H from the newly 
arrived emigrants to California, of which he was one, but the command was 
given to Richard T. Jacob, a JCF favorite (Sacramento Daily Union, 9 Dec. 
1871; E. c. KEMBLE, 90-97). Bryant's What 1 Saw in California, published 
shortly after the author's return east with General Kearny, went through 
several editions and, along with McLane's journal, is useful in supplementing 
JCF's much later account of his march from San Juan Bautista to Cahuenga. 
In the struggle between Kearny and JCF in California, Bryant sided with 
Kearny and was appointed by him to serve as alcalde of San Francisco. 

1. GiFFEN [1] has a fine secondary account, accompanied by a map, of the 
battalion's march from San Juan Bautista to Los Angeles. She notes the dis- 
tance covered and the campsite for each day. outland differs on a few of the 
bivouacs, particularly after the battalion left Mission San Buenaventura on 6 
Jan. 1847. 

2. In addition to the Indians, the battalion was made up of many members 
of JCF's exploring party, volunteers from the American settlements, and 
newly arrived emigrants. For the most part, they furnished their own am- 
munition and equipment and were capable of bearing the fatigue and 

privations endured by veteran troops. Attached to the battalion were three 
pieces of artillery and an ammunition wagon under the command of Lieut. 
Louis McLane of the Navy (mc lane, 91). "In the appearance of our small 
army," Bryant wrote, "there is presented but little of 'the pomp and circum- 
stance of glorious war.' There are no plumes nodding over brazen helmets, 
nor coats of broadcloth spangled with lace and buttons. A broad-brimmed, 
low-crowned hat, a shirt of blue flannel, or buckskin, with pantaloons and 
moccasins of the same, all generally the worse for wear, and smeared with 
mud and dust, make up the costume of the party, officers as well as men. A 
leathern girdle surrounds the waist, from which are suspended a bowie and a 
hunter's knife, and sometimes a brace of pistols. These, with rifle and 
holster-pistols, are the arms carried by officers and privates. A single bugle 
(and a sorry one it is) composes the band" (bryant, 366). 

3. In addition to the 1,900 horses and mules on the quartermaster's roll, the 
battalion was driving 300 head of cattle (mc lane, 91). Ordinarily thirteen 
beeves were slaughtered each day, and in the early stages of the march, 
replacements were secured from missions and ranchos along the way. This 
was also true for horses that gave out. At the Mission San Miguel on 10 
Dec. the battalion feasted on mutton, frijoles, and tortillas, and wheat be- 
came more readily available as they proceeded south (bryant, 372, 383, 390). 

4. BRYANT, 374, also observed that "the deportment of the battalion might 
be cited as a model for imitation." But there were others who did not share his 
opinion. A resident of Santa Barbara, William A. Streeter, remembered JCF 
saying that he had destroyed all the property he could find of those who were 
out in arms against him, and reported that the battalion commander's original 
intention had been to enter Santa Barbara "with fire and sword" (streeter, 
164). While the battalion was in the vicinity of Mission San Miguel, a scout- 
ing party burned the ranch house of Mariano Soberanes and took him and his 
sons prisoner (mc lane, 112; giffen [1], 221). 

5. As captain of defense and justice of the peace at San Luis Obispo, Jose 
de Jesus Pico (b. 1807) had been paroled earlier, but he had broken that 
parole, participated in the battle of Natividad, and supported Jose Maria 
Flores in the general uprising in the south. 

6. DOWNEY, 126, wrote, "We all knew the Colonel was a little tender on 
sex, and along before the conference was ended it was the generally received 
opinion in camp that there would be no hanging done." Javaela Villavicencio's 
pleading had saved her husband, but an Indian who had been spying on the 
battalion on the orders of Pico had been summarily executed on 13 Dec. in 
full view of Indians from a neighboring rancheria (bryant, 373). cutts, 161, 
contains what is reputedly Talbot's description of Pico's pardon, probably 
written by JBF. 

7. Pico, owner of Piedra Blanca, which later became a part of George 
Hearst's estate of San Simeon, not only aided JCF in bringing about the 
Treaty of Cahuenga but also accompanied him on his famous ride from Los 
Angeles to Monterey in March 1847 when the worried governor sought an 
interview with Kearny (see Doc. No. 166, n. 1). Later he would serve for a 
time as assessor of San Luis Obispo County and in 1852-53 as a member of 
the state legislature. 

8. After the Mission San Luis Obispo camps were made near Rancho 
Nipomo, owned by William Goodwin Dana, a native of Massachusetts who 
had become quite influential in California, and at Rancho Tinaquaic, owned 
by Benjamin Foxen, a former English sailor who over the years was to build 


a large California estate in spite of spending four years in jail for killing 
Agustin Davila in 1848 (bryant, 377-78; pioneer register). 

9. Guided by Foxen, the battalion crossed the Santa Ynez ridge by way 
of San Marcos Pass. The artillery had to be unlimbered and carried by the 
men over the pass and down the precipitous mountain. During the descent 
"the wind blew almost with the force of a tornado" (bryant, 380). JCF has 
been unjustly accused of poor judgment in taking the San Marcos Pass 
instead of the road through Gaviota. The latter pass is a narrow one, and 
rumors were afloat that the Californians intended to make a stand there. 
Furthermore, to take the route through Gaviota would have limited his 
mobility — he would have had the ocean on one side and the steeply rising 
hills on the other. 

10. For an account of the reoccupation of the almost deserted town of 
Santa Barbara, see ellison, 256-69. 

11. Lieut. Edward A. Selden, who had been a midshipman on board the 
U.S.S. Columbus, commanded the prize schooner ]ulia, in earlier days called 
the ]ulia Ann. He had arrived in the Santa Barbara roadstead on 30 Dec. and 
landed a cannon for the use of the battalion (bryant, 386). See Doc. No. 99 
for JCF's instructions to Selden. 

12. "The Willows" was about two miles east of present-day Fillmore (out- 
land, 412-13). 

13. On the morning of 11 Jan. "the artillery, horses and baggage, with an 
advance-guard and escort," went through the narrow pass, while the main 
body took a circuitous route over a ridge of hills to the right of the main 
road (bryant, 390). 

14. Before arriving at the Mission San Fernando at about 1 p.m. on 11 Jan., 
the battalion had been met by two Californians, who informed them of 
Kearny's and Stockton's victories at San Gabriel and the Mesa and of the 
American reoccupation of Los Angeles on 10 Jan. A Frenchman also 
brought a letter (probably Doc. No. 102) to JCF from Kearny (bryant, 

15. See Doc. No. 103, and note that it bears the date 12 Jan. 1847. 

16. See Doc. No. 106, and note that the Articles of Capitulation bear the 
date 13 Jan. 1847. 

94. Stephen Watts Kearny to Robert F. Stockton 

San Diego 
December 22d 1846 
Dear Commodore 

If you can take from here sufficient force to oppose the Californians 
now supposed to be near the Pueblos, & waiting for the approach of 
Lieut. Col. Fremont I advise that you do so, & that you march with 
the force as early as possible in the direction of the Pueblos by which 
you will either be able to form a junction with Lieut. Col. Fremont 
or make a division very much in his favor. 


Four Unidentified Members of the California Battalion. From a photo- 
graph taken 29 Aug. 1848, Washington, D.C., in the Los Angeles 
County Museum of Natural History. 


I do not think that Lieut. Col. Fremont should be left unsupported 
to fight a battle upon which the fate of California may for a long 
time depend if there are troops here to act in concert with him. Your 
force as it advances might surprise the enemy at the San Louis [San 
Luis Rey] Mission & make prisoners of them. I shall be happy in 
such an expedition to accompany you, & to give you any aid, either 
of head or hand of which I may be capable. Yours Truly, 

(Signed) S. W. Kearny 
Brig. Genl. 

Copy of enclosure C-1 in Kearny to R. Jones, 30 Jan. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-120 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Kearny and the remnants of his Army of the 
West had limped into San Diego on 12 Dec. The American force had been 
badly mauled by the Californians on 6 Dec. in the battle of San Pasqual, 
suffering casualties of twenty-one or twenty-two dead and almost as many 
injured, the general himself being wounded. However, Kearny wrote to the 
adjutant about the "victory" gained over "more than double our force," 
despite the fact that his force was not able to move from "Mule Hill" until 
the arrival of a relief party under Lieut. Andrew V. F. Gray — sent by Stock- 
ton after urgent pleas for aid came to the commodore's headquarters. The 
Historical Division of the Army War College declared in 1928, "General 
Kearny did not sustain a defeat at San Pasqual" (quoted in clarke, 230), 
and Kearny's biographer rates San Pasqual an American victory, since the 
force was able to march ultimately to its goal: San Diego (clarke, 229-32). 
Stockton, Benton, and JCF stigmatized it as a defeat, and so have many 
historians. Except for John S. Griffin, the assistant surgeon, and Maj. 
Thomas B. Swords, the quartermaster, every line officer who fought in the 
battle of San Pasqual received awards for gallant and meritorious service. 
"A grand affair for the Brevet of Major Gen'l to be conferred," Swords wrote 
bitterly to Griffin (griffin [2], 33:266-67). Many details of the battle were 
revealed during JCF's court-martial (ct. martial, 63-66). For a historical dis- 
cussion, see woodward, clarke, 195-232, and marti, 92-101. 

95. Robert F. Stockton to Stephen Watts Kearny 

Head Quarters 
San Diego 
December 23d. 1846 
Dear General 

Your note of yesterday was handed to me last night by Capt. 
Turner^ of the Dragoons. In reply to that note, permit me to refer 












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Stephen Watts Kearny. From a mezzotint engraving 
in the Library of Congress. 


you to the conversation held with you yesterday morning at your 
Quarters. I stated to you distinctly that I intended to march upon St. 
Louis Rey as soon as possible, with a part of the forces under my 
command — that I was very desirous to march on to the Pueblo to 
cooperate with Col. Fremont, but my movements after taking St. 
Louis Rey would depend entirely upon the information that I might 
receive as to the movements of Col. Fremont, and the enemy. It 
might be necessary for me to stop the pass at San Felipe, or march 
back to San Diego. 

Now my dear General, if the object of your note is to advise me to 
do any thing which would enable a large force of enemy to get into 
my Rear & cut off my communication with San Diego, and harass 
the safety of the garrison, and the Ships in the harbour, you will ex- 
cuse me for saying, I cannot follow such advice. 

My purpose still is to march for St. Louis Rey as soon as I can get 
the Dragoons & Riflemen mounted which I hope to do in two days. 
Faithfully Your Obdt. Servt. 

(Signed) R. F. Stockton 
Commander in chief & Governor of the Territory of California 

To Brig. Genl. W. S. Kearny 
U.S. Army 

Copy of enclosure C-2 in Kearny to R. Jones, 30 Jan. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-120 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

1. Henry Smith Turner (1811-81), Kearny's aide and adjutant and a 
kinsman of Robert E. Lee, kept a journal of his march from Fort Leaven- 
worth to Warner's rancho with the Army of the West and another of his 
return east with Kearny in the summer of 1847. Both have been edited 
recently by Dwight L. Clarke (see turner). Turner would resign from the 
Army in July 1848 and embark on a financial career in St. Louis with his 
wife's wealthy uncle, James H. Lucas. A fellow officer and friend in Cali- 
fornia, William T. Sherman, became manager of the firm's San Francisco 
branch bank in the 1850s. 


96. Stephen Watts Kearny to Robert F. Stockton 

San Diego 
Dec 23d 1846 
Dear Commodore 

I have received yours of this date, repeating, as you say, what you 
stated to me yesterday, & in reply I have only to remark, that if I 
had so understood you, I could not have written my letter to you of 
last evening — you certainly could not for a moment suppose that I 
would advise or suggest to you any movement, which might endan- 
ger the safety of the Garrison and the ships in the harbor. My letter 
of yesterday's date stated that "if you can take from here &c &c." of 
which you were the Judge & of which I knew nothing. Truly yours, 

(Signed) S. W. Kearny 
Brig. Genl. 
Comd. R. F. Stockton 
Comd U.S. Navy &c &c 
San Diego 

Copy of enclosure C-3 in Kearny to R. Jones, 30 Jan. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-120 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

97. Robert F. Stockton to Stephen Watts Kearny 

Head Quarters 
San Diego 
December 24th. 1846 
Dear General 

The animals for our march are being selected today, & although 
not in very good condition, I propose to move on the Road to [Pueblo] 
de los Angeles on Monday at 10 A.M. & open if possible a communica- 
tion with Col. Fremont's force, now supposed to be approaching the 

I expect to be joined by one hundred Indians, who with the 
Mounted Men will be ready at any time to make a forced march 
back to San Diego, in the event of the insurgents attempting to get 
in our rear to attack the garrison. 


You were kind enough to say that you would accompany me on 
this march — nothing could be more serviceable, & nothing more 
gratifying to me personally than your presence and I sincerely hope 
that your health will permit you to do so. Faithfully Your Obdt. 

(Signed) R. F. Stockton 
Commodore &c. 
Brig Genl. W. S. Kearny 
U.S. Army 

Copy of enclosure C-5 in Kearny to R. Jones, 30 Jan. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-120 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

98. Robert F. Stockton to Fremont 

Head Quarters 

San Diego 

December 24th. 1846 

6 o'clock P. M. 

My Dear Colonel: 

I hope to leave on Monday with five hundred men and six pieces 
of artillery, able I think to conquer the whole Country. I send this 
to you to urge you to take great care how you charge the insurgents, 
or how you chase them. They will run until they get you in disorder 
and separated, and suddenly turn and charge — do not let them get 
behind you; they are so expert in horsemanship that you cannot 
hope to compete with them in that art, or that of dodging or run- 
ning: therefore keep your men quiet and steady — let the enemy do 
the charging and your Rifles will do the rest. 

I hope to be at St. Luis Rey on Wednesday. If you have even one 
chance against you, join me before fight and we can do as we see fit 
afterwards. The bearer [s] will tell you all the news and our route. 
Send them back as soon as possible. 

God bless you and prosper our Country. Very Truly Yours, 

R. F. Stockton 
Lieut. Col. Fremont 
Military Commandant of California 


Lbk (DNA-45, Entry 395 [E-20-A], Letterbook of Robert F. Stockton, 

99. Fremont to Edward A. Selden 

Santa Barbara, Jan 2d 1847 

You will please proceed with your vessel to the western extremity 
of the Rincon^ and awaiting there the appearance of my force, en- 
deavor to cooperate with me, should it become necessary to force a 

I am informed that the Eastern extremity of the passage which is 
called Punta Gorda, is occupied by the Enemy with at present, but 
one piece of artillery. On the morning of the 4th instant my advance 
will enter the passage which in the meantime you will keep under 
strict surveillance, and give me immediate information of any move- 
ment or increase of force; using for that purpose the subjoined sig- 
nals. Your slight force and want of boats make it difficult for you to 
render efficient assistance. You will however do the best you can, 
and after the passage of the Rincon make your way to Commodore 
Stockton, whom you will acquaint with our Situation and intended 
movements. Having procured the necessary supplies for your vessel 
you will immediately return to San Pedro and await there farther 
communication from me. One gun, followed after an interval of five 
minutes by a rocket, and succeeded by a blue light on the beach will 
be understood by you as a signal for a boat. You will reply by a 
rocket and blue light. I am with Respect Your Obdt. Servt. 

(Signed) J. C. Fremont 
Lt. Col. U.S. Army 
Captain George [Edward A.] Selden 
Schooner Julia 
Bay of Santa Barbara 

Copy 19 (1) enclosed in Kearny to R. Jones, 11 Sept. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-217 1847, £/w K-209 1846). For details on the taking of the schooner Julia 
Ann, see Doc. No. 82, n. 3. 

1. For JCF's description of the pass, see p. 238. 


100. Fremont to Robert F. Stockton 


Santa Barbara 
Jany. 2d. 1847 

I reached this place on the 28th ultimo, with an effective force of 
about three hundred and fifty men and three pieces of artillery. 

Bad weather and poor horses have harassed and impeded our 
movements, making our advance extremely slow. 

I shall leave our present position in the afternoon and on the 4th 
pass the Rincon, the eastern extremity of which is occupied by a 
force of the Californians, with the strength of which I am not in- 
formed. Lieut. Selden, in the Julia, will cooperate with me at that 

I shall thence march directly to the Pueblo de los Angeles, and if 
not met by the enemy, on the road, will attack him at the town. I 
am very Respectfully Your Obedient Servant, 

(Signed) J. C. Fremont 
Lt. Col. U.S. Army 

Commdg. Cal. Battalion 
Commodore R. F. Stockton 
Governor & Commander in Chief of Territory of California 

Copy 19 (2) enclosed in Kearny to R. Jones, 11 Sept. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-217 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

101. Robert F. Stockton to Fremont 

Camp at San Louis Rey, 
January 3, 1847 
My Dear Colonel: 

We arrived here last night from San Diego, and leave to-day on 
our march for the City of the Angels, where I hope to be in five or 
six days. I learn this morning that you are at Santa Barbara, and send 
this despatch by the way of San Diego, in the hope that it may reach 
you in time. If there is one single chance against you, you had better 


not fight the rebels until I get up to aid you, or you can join me on 
the road to the Pueblo. 

These fellows are well prepared, and Mervine's and Kearny's de- 
feat have given them a deal more confidence and courage. If you do 
fight before I see you, keep your forces in close order. Do not allow 
them to be separated, or even unnecessarily extended. They will 
probably try to deceive you by a sudden retreat, or pretended run- 
away, and then unexpectedly return to the charge after your men get 
in disorder in the chase. My advice is to allow them to do all the 
charging and running and let your rifles do the rest. 

In the art of horsemanship, of dodging, and running, it is in vain 
to attempt to compete with them. 

In haste, very truly, your friend and obedt. servt. 

R. F. Stockton 

To Lieut. Col. Fremont. 

P. S. I understand that it is probable they will try to avoid me & fight 
you separately. 

Lbk (DNA-45, Entry 395 [E-20-A], Letterbook of Robert F. Stockton, 
1846-47). Also in ct. martial, 272-73, with the second clause of the first 
sentence in the second paragraph italicized. See p. 238 for JCF's description 
of Hamley's arrival with this letter from Stockton. 

102. Stephen Watts Kearny to Fremont 

Pueblo de los Angeles 
Sunday, January 10, 1846 [1847], 4 p. m. 
Dear Fremont: 

We are in possession of this place, with a force of marines and 
sailors, having marched into it this morning. Join us as soon as you 
can, or let me know, if you want us to march to your assistance; 
avoid charging the enemy; their force does not exceed 400, perhaps 
not more than 300. Please acknowledge the receipt of this, and des- 
patch the bearer at once. Yours, 

S. W. Kearny, 

Brigadier General, U. S. Army 
Lieutenant Colonel J. C. Fremont 
Mounted riflemen, commanding, &c. &c. 


Printed in ct. martial, 73. This is undoubtedly the letter which the 
Frenchmen had brought JCF on 11 Jan. 1847 near the Mission San Fernando 
( BRYANT, 391) and is evidence that JCF knew of the route of the Californians 
before he ordered a truce on 12 Jan. (Doc. No. 103). 

Kearny testified at the court-martial that he considered this letter and his 
letters of 12 and 13 Jan. 1847 to JCF to be "semi-official," and that he kept 
no copies (ct. martial, 72). He does not mention that Stockton was in Los 
Angeles, but JCF undoubtedly learned that he was from various messengers 
and Californians. "|Wel camped in the Mission of San Fernando . . . and 
received authentic information that Commodore Stockton had defeated' 
Flores . . ." (mc lane, 102). 

103. Fremont's Proclamation 

[12 Jan. 1847] 


Know ye that in consequence of propositions of peace or cessation 
of hostilities, being submitted to me as commandant of the Califor- 
nian Battalion of United States Forces, which has so far been acceded 
to by me, as to cause me to appoint a board of commissioners to con- 
fer with a similar board appointed by the Californians, and it requir- 
ing a little time to close the negotiations, it is agreed upon and 
ordered by me, that an entire cessation of hostilities shall take place 
until tomorrow afternoon (Jan, 13th) and that the said Californians 
be permitted to bring in their wounded to the mission of San Fer- 
nandez [Fernando], where also if they choose, they can remove their 
camp, to facilitate said negotiations. 

Given under my hand and seal this twelfth day of January 1847. 

J. C. Fremont, 
Lieut. Colonel U. S. Army & Military Commandant of California 

DS, enclosure in Stockton to (ieorge Bancroft, 15 Jan. 1847 (DNA-45, 
Pacific Squadron, Commodore Stockton, 1846-47). The body of this docu- 
ment and the Articles of Capitulation, 13 Jan. 1847, are in the hand of 
Theodore Talbot. 


104. Stephen Watts Kearny to Fremont 

Pueblo de los Angeles, 
Tuesday, January 12, 1847, 6 p.m. 
Dear Fremont: 

I am here in possession of this place, with sailors and marines. We 
met and defeated the whole force of the Californians on the 8th and 
9th; they have not now to exceed 300 men concentrated; avoid 
charging them, and come to me at this place. Acknowledge the hour 
of receipt of this, and when I may expect you. Regard to Russell. 

S. W. Kearny, 
Brigadier General 
Lieutenant Colonel Fremont 

Printed in ct. martial, 73. 

105. Stephen Watts Kearny to Robert F. Stockton 

Hd Qrs. Army of the West 
CiUDAD DE Los Angelos, Jany. 13 '47 

I fear from the armistice which I this morning saw, signed by 
Lieut Col Fremont & sent to me by you, that our countrymen under 
Col. F. are entirely ignorant of our being here, that they are em- 
barassed in their movements & I further fear, that unless something 
is done at once to inform them of the true State of affairs here, that 
they may capitulate and retire to the upper country to avoid so seri- 
ous an evil. I advise & offer to take one half of this command, from 
250 to 300 men & march at once to form a junction with Lieut Col. 
Fremont. Very Respectfully Yr. Obt. Servt. 

S. W. Kearny 
Brig. Genl. 
Comdr. R. F. Stockton, U.S. Navy 
Gov of California, Comdg. U. S. forces 


Copy of enclosure D in Kearny to R. Jones, 30 Jan. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-120 1847, f/w K-209 1846). On the copy to Jones, Kearny observed in a 
note dated 27 Jan., "No answer reed, to this but a verbal reply that Com. S. 
did not think Lieut. Col. F. was in any danger." 

106. Articles of Capitulation 

[13 Jan. 1847] 

Articles of Capitulation made and entered into, at the Ranch of 
Cowenga this Thirteenth day of January, Anno Domini Eighteen 
Hundred and forty seven between P. B. Reading, Major Louis Mc- 
Lane Jr. Commdg. Artillery, Wm. H. Russell Ordnance Officer, 
Commissioners appointed by J. C. Fremont, Lieut. Colonel, United 
States Army, and Military Commandant of the Territory of Cali- 
fornia, and Jose Antonio Carrillo, Commdt. Escuadron, Augustin 
Olvera, Diputado, Commissioners appointed by Don Andres Pico, 
Commander-in-Chief of the Californian Forces under the Mexican 

Article 1st 
The Commissioners on the part of the Californians agree, that 
their entire force shall on presentation of themselves to Lieut. Col. 
Fremont deliver up their artillery and Public Arms, and that they 
shall return peaceably to their homes conforming to the Laws and 
Regulations of the United States and not again take up arms during 
the war between the United States and Mexico, but will assist and 
aid in placing the country in a state of peace and Tranquillity. 

Article 2nd 
The Commissioners on the part of Lieut. Col. Fremont agree and 
bind themselves on the fulfillment of the 1st Article by the Cali- 
fornians, that they shall be guaranteed protection of Life and prop- 
erty whether on parole or otherwise. 

Article 3d 
That until a Treaty of Peace be made and signed between the United 
States of North America and the Republic of Mexico, no Californian 
or other Mexican citizen shall be bound to take the oath of alle- 


Article 4th 
That any CaHfornian or other citizen of Mexico, desiring is per- 
mitted by this Capitulation to leave the country without let or hin- 

Article 5th 
That in virtue of the aforesaid articles, equal rights and privileges 
are vouchsafed to every citizen of California as are enjoyed by the 
citizens of the United States of North America. 

Article 6th 
All officers, citizens. Foreigners, or others shall receive the protec- 
tion guaranteed by the 2nd Article. 

Article 7th 
This Capitulation is intended to be no bar in effecting such ar- 
rangements as may in future be in justice required by both parties. 

P. B. Reading, Major California Battalion 

Wm. H. Russell, Ord. Officer of Calif. Batt. 

Louis McLane Jr., Comdg. Artillery California Battalion 

Jose Anto. Carrillo^ Agustin Olvera" 

Comandte. de Escuadron Diputado 


J. C. Fremont, 
Lt. Col. U. S. Army and Military Commandant of California 


Andres Pico 
Comandte. de Escuadron y Jefe de los fuerzas nacionales en Cali- 

DS, enclosure in Stockton to George Bancroft, 15 Jan. 1847 (DNA-45, 
Pacific Squadron, Commodore Stockton, 1846-47). The body of the Articles 
of Capitulation and the JCF proclamation of 12 Jan. 1847 are in the hand of 
Theodore Talbot; the signatures to the Articles of Capitulation are those of 
Reading, Russell, McLane, Carrillo, Olvera, JCF, and Pico. The original 
Spanish text of the articles, with the signatures of the commissioners, JCF, 
and Pico, is in CU-B. The Annual Publications of the Historical Society of 
Southern California, 15 (1932):303-10, reproduces it in facsimile and also 
gives an English translation which varies considerably from the Talbot docu- 

The signing took place at the home of Don Tomas Feliz, at the north end 
of Cahuenga Pass and within a few hundred feet of the Rio de Porciuncula 
(Los Angeles River). A stretch of El Camino Real wound its way nearby, 
linking Mission San Fernando with El Pueblo de los Angeles. The site is 


now within the limits of Universal City. The agreement was reached in the 
morning, and William H. Russell was dispatched to Los Angeles to report 
the capitulation. The treaty is known as the Treaty of Cahuenga, the name 
being derived from that of a former Gabrielea Indian rancheria located 

Stockton's earlier unwillingness to treat with the Californians, and his 
irritation at their surrender to JCF, come through in the letter to Bancroft 
by which he forwarded the armistice and the Articles of Capitulation. "It 
seems that not being able to negotiate with me, and having lost the battles 
of the 8th [on the banks of the San Gabriel River] and 9th [the Mesa], they 
met Colonel Fremont on the 12th instant, on his way here, who not knowing 
what had occurred, he entered into the capitulation with them, which I now 
send to you; and although I refused to do it myself, still, I have thought 
it best to approve it." It already has been noted that when JCF made peace 
with the Californians, he knew of the American occupation of Los Angeles. 

A naval surgeon wrote in his journal that Lieut. George Minor, who had 
commanded the garrison at San Diego, said that Stockton called JCF "a 
coward, traitor, and other such harsh names" after he learned of the treaty 
with the Californians (duvall, 95). 

1. Jose Antonio Carrillo (1796-1862) had been in and out of public life for 
twenty-five years when he signed the Treaty of Cahuenga. In 1846 he 
joined Castro at Santa Clara as major general of the Californian forces, but 
he did not flee with his commander to Mexico in August. In fact, he was 
second in command when Flores drove Gillespie out of Los Angeles. 

2. Agustin Olvera had served as secretary and member of the Assembly 
under both Pio Pico and Jose Maria Flores. After the American conquest 
he became a lawyer and a judge, and in 1856 he was appointed receiver of 
the U.S. Land Office at Los Angeles (pioneer register). 

107. Stephen Watts Kearny to Fremont 

CiuDAD DE Los Angeles 
January 13th, 1847—12 (noon) 
Dear Fremont: 

We are in force in this place — sailors and marines — join us as soo7i 
as possible. We are ignorant of your movements, and know nothing 
of you further than your armistice of yesterday. Yours, 

S. W. Kearney, 
Brigadier General 
Lieut. Col, Fremont 

Printed in ct. martial, 73-74. 


Andres Pico. From a photograph in the Henry E. Huntington Library 

and Art Gallery. 


108. Stephen Watts Kearny to Fremont 

Dear Fremont: 


January 13th, 1847—2 p.m. 

We have been here since the 10th— have plenty of marines and 
sailors — we know^ nothing of you except your armistice of yester- 
day, signed by yourself. I have sent several letters to you, and fear 
they have been intercepted, as I have received no answer. Come here 
at once with your whole force and join us, or, if you cannot, let me 
know it, and I will go to you. The enemy cannot possibly have near 
you more than 300, most probably not more than 150 men. Acknowl- 
edge the hour of receiving this, and send back the bearer at once, 
and write but little, as it may get into the hands of the enemy instead 
of mine. 

We defeated the enemy on the 8th and on the 9th, during our 
march. Since then, they have been much scattered, and several, no 
doubt, gone home. 

I repeat we are ignorant of every thing relating to your command, 
except what we conjecture from your armistice, signed by yourself. 

S. W. Kearny, 
Brigadier General 
Do not charge the enemy. 

Lt. Col. J. C. Fremont 
Mounted Riflemen, &C., &c. 

Printed in CT. martial, 74. Under questioning at the court-martial Kearny 
said he did not recall underscoring "Do not" of ''Do not charge the enemy," 
and was of the opinion that if JCF had charged the enemy without sabres, 
he would have been defeated. 

109. Fremont to Stephen Watts Kearny 

On the march, Jany. 13th 1846 [1847] 
Dear Sir, 

I have the honor to report to you my arrival at this place with 400 
mounted riflemen and six pieces of artillery, including among the 


latter two pieces lately in the possession of the Californians/ Their 
entire force, under the command of D, Andro Pico, have this day 
laid down their arms and surrendered to my command. Very re- 
spectfully Yr. Obdt. Servt. 

J. C. Fremont 
Lt Col. U.S. Army, and Military Commandant of the Territory of 

Brig. General S. W. Kearny 
Commanding U. S. Forces, 
Pueblo de los Angeles 

ALS, RC, enclosure 3 in Kearny to R. Jones, 11 Sept. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-217 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Endorsed. Russell carried not only the Articles of 
Capitulation to Los Angeles on the evening of 13 Jan. but also this letter to 
Kearny, who claimed that it constituted an official report of the California 
Battalion to him and a recognition that he was JCF's commander. JCF main- 
tained at his court-martial that this was a private letter, written in reply to 
Kearny's four urgent, familiar, informative letters of 10, 12, and 13 Jan., and 
not a reporting of the battalion. Furthermore, JCF pointed out that Kearny's 
letters had not revealed that Stockton was with him at Los Angeles, and he 
intimated that such information had been deliberately withheld (ct. martial, 
6-7, 72-74, 400-405). 

Russell testified that he had, indeed, first called upon Kearny and delivered 
the letter, but on being told that Stockton was in command, went to him to 
report the capitulation; JCF had given him instructions "carefully to inquire 
as to who was in chief command, and to make my report accordingly." He 
added, "No such contingency was contemplated, I think, by Lieutenant 
Colonel Fremont, when he dispatched me on that mission, as the command 
being claimed by them both [Kearny and Stockton]" (ct. martial, 243-45, 
257, 263). 

After reporting to Stockton, Russell returned to dine with Kearny and 
Capt. Henry S. Turner and spent the night in Kearny's quarters. The next 
morning, 14 Jan., he rode out of Los Angeles to meet JCF, who was march- 
ing toward the city at the head of the battalion, and conducted him to the 
quarters assigned by Stockton. He reported that conversations with Kearny 
and Stockton indicated that both were anxious to confer upon JCF the office 
of governor. "1 told him [JCF] . . . that I was satisfied, from what had 
occurred, that General Kearny was a better friend of his than Stockton; but, 
from Kearny's own admission, I regretted to have to give it as my opinion 
that we should have to look to Commodore Stockton still as commander-in- 
chief, and submitted to implicidy, as I thought, by Kearny" (Russell's testi- 
mony, CT. MARTIAL, 263). Benjamin D. Wilson remembered the streets being 
full of rumors that JCF did not intend to recognize the superiority of either 
Stockton or Kearny (wilson, 123). 

1. Later JCF charged that Kearny never reported to the government the 
recovery of a cannon which he had lost at the battle of San Pasqual, and 
this fact, he said, evidenced "his temper towards me" (ct. martial, 45). 


110. Articles of Capitulation, Additional Article 

[16 Jan. 1847] 

That the paroles of all officers, citizens and others of the United 
States and of naturalized citizens of Mexico are by this foregoing 
capitulation cancelled and every condition of said paroles from and 
after this date are of no farther force and effect and all prisoners of 
both parties are hereby released. 

Ciudad de los Angeles, Jany. 16th. 1847 
Approved Signed 

J. C. Fremont P. B. Reading 

Lieut. Col. U. S. Army Major Calfa. Battalion 

Mility. Comdt. of California 

Louis McLane, Jr. 

Commdt. Artillery 

Califora. Battalion 

Wm. H. Russell 

Ordnance Officer 

California Battalion 

Andres Pico Jose Antonio Carrillo 

Commdt. of Squadron and Commdt. of Squadron 

Chief of the National forces of California Agustin Olvera 


I do hereby certify that the within is a correct copy of the Capitu- 
lation effected between the U. States and California. El Pueblo de 
Los Angeles. January 17th. 1847. 

(Signed) P. B. Reading 
Major Cala. Battalion 

Copy (DNA-45, Area 9 File, Pacific). English copies of the Articles of 
Capitulation, 13 Jan. 1847, and the Adclitional Article, 16 Jan. 1847, were 
forwarded by W. Branford Shubrick to the Secretary of the Navy on 28 Jan. 
1847. The Navy Department acknowledged their receipt on 10 May. 


The Quarrel 
with Stephen Watts Kearny 

111. Stephen Watts Kearny to Robert F. Stockton 

Hd. Qrs. Army of the West 
CiuDAD LOS Angeles 
January 16. 1847 

I am informed that you are now engaged in organizing a civil 
government & appointing officers for it in this Territory. As this 
duty has been especially assigned to myself by orders of the Presdt. 
of the U. S. conveyed in letters to me from the Secy, of War of June 
3 & 18. 1846^ the original of which I gave to you on the 13th & which 
you returned to me on the 14th & copies of which I furnished you 
with on the 26 Deer. 

I have to ask if you have any authority from the Presdt., from the 
Secty. of Navy, or from any other channel of the Presdt. to form 
such government & make such appts. ? If you have such authority & 
will shew it to me, or furnish me with certified copies of it, I will 
cheerfully aquiesce in what you are doing. If you have not such au- 
thority I then demand that you cease all further proceedings relating 
to the formation of a civil government for this territory, as I cannot 
recognize in you any right in assuming to perform duties confided 
to me by the President. Very Respectfully Yr. Obt. Servt. 

(Signed) S. W. Kearny 
Brig. Genl. U.S.A. 
Com. R. F. Stockton 
U. S. Navy 
Actg. Govnr. 


Copy of enclosure E-2 in Kearny to R. Jones, 30 Jan. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-120 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Endorsed. 

1. For an extract of the 18 June 1846 letter, see the enclosure in Doc. 
No. 113. 

112. Robert F. Stockton to Stephen Watts Kearny 

Head Quarters 


January 16th. 1847. 

In answer to your note received this afternoon I need say but little 
more than that which I communicated to you in a conversation at 
San Diego — That California was conquered & a civil government 
put into successful operation — That a copy of the laws made by me 
for the government of the Territory, & the names of the officers 
selected to see them faithfully executed were transmitted to the 
President of the United States before your arrival in the Territory.^ 

I will only add, that I cannot do anything, nor desist from doing 
anything or alter anything on your demand ; which I will submit to 
the President & ask for your recall. In the meantime you will con- 
sider yourself suspended from the command of the U. S. Forces in 
this place." Faithfully Yr. Obdt. Servt. 

R. F. Stockton 
Commander in chief 


Brvt. Brig Genl. 
S. W. Kearny 

LS, enclosure in Kearny to W. L. Marcy, 21 Sept. 1847 (DNA-94, LR. 
K-^75 1847). Endorsed. A copy may also be found as enclosure E-3 in Kearny 
to R. Jones, 30 Jan. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, K-120 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

1. Stockton and Kearny had talked on 28 Dec. at San Diego about the War 
Department's order to Kearny in regard to the civil government of California 

(CT. MARTIAL, 79). 

2. On cross-examination at the court-martial Kearny testified that he con- 
sidered the word "suspend" applicable to the sailors and Marines, and he 
accordingly gave up command over them but continued in command of the 
dragoons (ct. martial, 117, 121). 


113. William H. Emory to Fremont 

Head qrs. Army of the West 


January 16th. 1847 

By direction of Brig. Genl. Kearny I send you a Copy of a Com- 
munication to him from the Secty. of War, dated June 18th. 1846 in 
which is the following "These Troops and such as may be organized 
in CaHfornia will be under your Command," — The General directs 
that no change will be made in the organization of your Battalion 
of Volunteers or Officers appointed in it without his Sanction or ap- 
proval being first obtained. Very Respectfully, 

(Signed) W. H. Emory 
Lt. & Act Asst. Adj. General 

Lt. Col. J. C. Fremont 
Mounted Riflemen Commdg. Battn. California Vol. 


William L. Marcy to Stephen Watts Kearny 

War Department 
Washington June 18th. 1846 

• * • ■ 

I have nothing of importance to add to the despatches which have 
been already forwarded to you. Since my last letter it has been deter- 
mined to send a small force round Cape Horn to California, The 
Arms, cannon & Provisions to be sent to the Pacific will be accom- 
panied by one Compy. of Artillery of the Regular Army; arrange- 
ments are now on foot to send a Regt. of Volunteers by sea. These 
troops & such as may be organized in California, will be under your 
command. More than common solicitude will be felt here in regard 
to the expedition committed to you & it is desired that you should 
avail yourself of all occasions to inform the Government of your 
progress & prospects. The President desires your opinion as early as 
you are in a situation to give it, of the practicability of your reaching 
California in the course of this Autumn or in the early part of next 


winter, I need not repeat the expression of his wishes, that you 
should take military possession of that Country as soon as it can be 
safely done. I am with great respect Your Obt. Servt. 

(Signed) W. L. Marcy 
Sec of War 
To Col. S. W. Kearny 

Copy of enclosure 1 in Kearny to R. Jones, 11 Sept. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-217 1847, f/w K-209 1846). A copy without the enclosure is in Kearny to 
R. Jones, 17 Jan. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, K-97 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Kearny's 
January letter to Jones bears the endorsement "Reed. Monday night — by 
Majr. Emory, May 3d. 1847. R. Jones." A duplicate had already been received 
by the Adjutant General on 20 April 1847. 

Kearny's order through Emory was another play in the power struggle 
between Stockton and Kearny. The general is here trying to get JCF not to 
recognize Stockton's appointment of Gillespie as major of the California 
Battalion — an appointment made necessary by the fact that JCF was to be- 
come governor. 

Kearny later maintained that he wrote this order to JCF before receiving 
Stockton's letter of 16 Jan., but in any case, by Emory's testimony it was 
not delivered until after dusk on 16 Jan. (ct. martial, 78, 118, 163) and 
apparently after the receipt of Stockton's letter suspending him from the 
command of the troops at Los Angeles (except the dragoons of the regular 

Gillespie's commission is dated 18 Jan., but he recalled having learned that 
he was to become major of the battalion on either 16 or 17 Jan. (ct. martial, 

William Hemsley Emory (1811-87) of Maryland, a West Point graduate 
and lieutenant in the Corps of Topographical Engineers, had been assigned 
to the Army of the West as its senior engineering officer. Undoubtedly he 
was responsible for saving Kearny's life in the battle of San Pasqual. The 
general soon sent him east with dispatches, and en route Emory probably 
wrote a number of letters which appeared in various journals. Since they 
were highly critical of Stockton's and JCF's roles in California, they aroused 
the ire of Benton, who, however, was unable to block a double brevet to 
Emory for his services in California. His Notes of a Military Reconnaissance 
from Fort Leavenworth to San Diego, published in 1848 by order of Congress 
in an edition of 10,000 copies, is really the official report of the march of the 
Army of the West. Soon after the Mexican War, Emory became the astron- 
omer of the U.S.-Mexican Boundary Commission, and during the Civil War 
was breveted a major general. He retired in 1876 as a brigadier general. 


114. Fremont's Appointment as Governor 

[16 Jan. 1847] 


Having, by authority of the President and Congress of the United 
States of North America, and by right of conquest, taken possession 
of that portion of territory heretofore known as upper and lower 
California; and having declared the same to be a territory of the 
United States, under the name of the territory of California; and 
having established laws for the government of the said territory, /, 
Robert F. Stockton, governor and commander-in-chief of the same, 
do, in virtue of the authority in me vested, and in obedience to the 
aforementioned laws, appoint /. C. Fremotit, esq. governor and 
commander-in-chief of the territory of California, until the Presi- 
dent of the United States shall otherwise direct. 

Given under my hand and seal, on this sixteenth day of January, 
Anno Domini, one thousand eight hundred and forty-seven, at the 
Ciudad de los Angeles. 

R. F. Stockton 
Governor, &c. 

Printed in CT. martial, 175-76. Months later William H. Russell, who 
had been appointed secretary of state, was confident that he and JCF had 
gone "not later than the middle of the afternoon" to Stockton's quarters to 
receive their commissions. Stockton, on the other hand, believed the commis- 
sions had been delivered at an evening interview (ct. martial, 196-97, 263). 
At this time, too, he thought he had shown Kearny's letter of 16 Jan. and 
read his own reply (see Doc. Nos. Ill and 112), and recalled JCF stating 
during this visit that he had received a letter from Kearny which he intended 
to answer the next day. 

JCF did not actually take up his duties as governor until three days later, 
when Stockton left Los Angeles for San Diego. 


115. Stephen Watts Kearny to Fremont 

January 17 [1847] 

Dear Colonel: 
I wish to see you on business. Yours, 

Lieut. Col. Fremont 

Printed in CT. martial, 76. 

S. W. Kearny 
Brigadier General 

116. Fremont to Stephen Watts Kearny 


Jany. 17. 1847 

I have the honor to be in receipt of your favor of last night/ in 
which I am directed to suspend the execution of Orders which in my 
capacity of Military Commandant of this Territory I had received 
from Commodore Stockton, Governor & Commander in Chief of 

I avail myself of an early hour this morning to make such a reply 
as the brief time allowed for reflection will enable me. 

I found Commodore Stockton in possession of the Country exer- 
cising the functions of Military Commandant and Civil Governor, 
as early as July of last year; and shortly thereafter I received from 
him the Commission of Military Commandant, the duties of which 
I immediately entered upon, and have continued to exercise to the 
present moment. 

I found also on my arrival at this place some three or four days 
since. Commodore Stockton still exercising the functions of Civil 
and Military Governor with the same apparent deference to his rank 
on the part of all officers, (including yourself) as he maintained and 
required when he assumed in July last. 

I learned also in conversation with you, that on the march from 
San Diego recently to this place you entered upon & discharged 


duties implying an acknowledgement on your part of supremacy, to 
Commodore Stockton.^ 

I feel myself therefore with great deference to your professional & 
personal character constrained to say, that, until you & Commodore 
Stockton adjust between yourselves the question of rank, where I 
respectfully think the difficulty belongs, I shall have to report and 
receive orders as heretofore from the Commodore. With considera- 
tion of high regard I am Your Obedt. Servt., 

J. C. Fremont 
Lt. Col U. S. Army and Military Commandant of the Territory of 


Brig. Genl. S. W. Kearny 
U.S. Army 

LS, enclosure 2 in Kearny to R. Jones, 11 Sept. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, K-217 
1847, f/w K-209 1846). Endorsed: "Refuses to comply with orders of the 
War Department." This is one of many documents submitted by Kearny to 
support the charges and specifications against JCF, which had accompanied 
his 11 Sept. letter. From California the general had already sent to Washing- 
ton three copies of JCF's "insubordinate" letter. 

JCF personally delivered the letter. He had gone to Kearny's quarters at 
the general's request, and while there Kit Carson brought the letter, it having 
been left with Talbot to copy (ct. martial, 38, 76, 228). JCF signed it and 
gave it to Kearny. According to his testimony later, Kearny advised JCF to 
take the letter back and destroy it and he would forget it. JCF refused and 
noted that Stockton would support him. "I told him," Kearny testified, 
"that Commodore Stockton could not support him in disobeying the orders 
of his senior officer and that, if he persisted in it, he would unquestionably 
ruin himself. He told me that Commodore Stockton was about organizing a 
civil government and intended to appoint him as governor of the territory. I 
told him Commodore Stockton had no such authority, that authority having 
been conferred on me by the President of the United States. He asked me if I 
would appoint him governor. I told him I expected shortly to leave California 
for Missouri; that I had, previous to leaving Santa Fe, asked for permission 
to do so, and was in hopes of receiving it; that as soon as the country was 
quieted I should, most probably organize a civil government in California, 
and that I, at that time, knew of no objections to my appointing him as the 
governor. He then stated to me that he would see Commodore Stockton, 
and that, unless he appointed him governor at once, he would not obey his 
orders, and left me" (ct. martial, 39). 

This attempt to depict JCF as bargaining for the governorship is not very 
convincing. If the testimonies of Stockton and Russell are to be credited, all 
the forms bestowing the governorship on JCF had been completed the day 
before and the commission bears the date 16 Jan., while the appointment it- 
self had been promised by Stockton six months earlier (see Doc. No. 56). 
Furthermore, if there was still a possibility of JCF obeying his orders and 
becoming Kearny's appointee, why did Kearny leave Los Angeles for San 


Diego the next morning (18 Jan.) without informing JCF that he was going 
or where he was going (ct. martial, 87)? However, it must be noted that 
JCF makes no mention in his letter to Kearny of having received his commis- 
sion as governor from Stockton. But perhaps that is only natural, since 
Kearny's order to him of 16 Jan. had dealt only with the question of military 

There seems to have been a real question in Kearny's mind about his 
supreme authority in California. In writing to his wife about the "blow-out" 
between Commodore Stockton and Kearny, Turner noted, "Kearny is noth- 
ing but will remain in the country until the action of the President is re- 
ceived, with respect to the extraordinary behavior of Stockton and Fremont" 
(Turner to Julia Turner, 30 Jan. 1847, turner, 149-50). 

On being cross-examined by the defense at the court-martial, Kearny ad- 
mitted that about a week after receiving this 17 Jan. letter of JCF's, he 
decided he would arrest JCF, but he did not communicate this fact to him 
(or to Benton, to whom he wrote in March and May) until the time of the 
actual arrest on 22 Aug. at Fort Leavenworth (R. Jones to Benton, 24 Aug. 
1847, Doc. No. 209; ct. martial, 41). 

1. See Doc. No. 113. 

2. See Doc. No. 61. 

3. These duties, which implied Kearny's acceptance of Stockton as the 
supreme official in California, were enumerated by JCF in a letter to Benton, 
3 Feb. 1847, and again at his court-martial (see Doc. No. 131 and ct. 
MARTIAL, 438-39). 

4. In a biography of Kearny, Clarke implies that since JCF had elected to 
continue service under Stockton, a more appropriate title following the sig- 
nature would have been "Major in the Naval battalion" (clarke, 258). 

117. Stephen Watts Kearny to Robert F. Stockton 

Hd Qrs. Army of the West 


January 17. 1847 

In my communication to you of yesterday's date, I stated that I 
had learned that you were engaged in organizing a civil government 
for California. I referred you to the Presdts. instructions to me (the 
original of which you had seen and copies of which I furnished 
you) to perform that duty and I added that if you had any authority 
from the Presdt. or any of his organs for what you were doing, I 
would cheerfully acquiesce & if you have not such authority, I de- 
manded that you cease further proceedings in the matter! Your 
reply of the same date refers me to a conversation held at San Diego 


& adds that you "cannot do anything, nor desist from anything nor 
alter anything on your (my) demand." 

As, (in consequence of the defeat of the army on the 8th & 9th 
Inst, by the troops under my command, & the capitulation entered 
into on the 13th inst. by Lieut. Col. Fremont with the leaders of the 
Californians, in which the people under arms & in the field agreed 
to disperse & remain quiet and peaceable,) the country may now for 
the first time be considered as conquered & taken possession of by us, 
and as I am prepared to carry out the President's instructions to me 
which you oppose, I must for the purpose of preventing collision be- 
tween us & possibly a civil war in consequence of it, remain silent 
for the present, leaving with you the great responsibility of doing 
that for which you have no authority & preventing me from comply- 
ing with the Presdt's orders. Very Respectfully Yr. Obt. Servt. 

(Signed) S. W. Kearny, Brig Genl. 
Com. R. F. Stockton 
U.S. Navy 
Actg. Gov. of Califa. 

Copy of enclosure E-4 in Kearny to R. Jones, 30 Jan. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-120 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Endorsed. On the same day Kearny sent a 
short note to Stockton, whom he addressed as "acting Governor of Cali- 
fornia," informing him of his intention to leave Los Angeles the next day 
with the small party which had escorted him to California (ct. martial, 
195). He went to San Diego and on 31 Jan. sailed for Monterey. 

Naval officer McLane's opinion of the three senior officers at Los Angeles 
was not very high. Stockton, "unscrupulous & energetic," had played a "grab" 
game; JCF was an "ambitious Ass, and entirely wanting in Military Knowl- 
edge & feeling, though persevering & cunning"; and Kearny, who he felt was 
"repressed" by his defeat at San Pasqual, had shown "great want of moral 
courage & unfitness for command" (mc lane, 104-5). 

118. Fremont to William A. T. Maddox 

El Pueblo de Los Angeles 
January 17, 1847 

You will comply on the part of the United States with the article in 
the capitulation made with the Californians on the 13th instant, also 
with the additional articles of the 16th. 


For the benefit of all the military commanders north of this place, 
I send by the bearer, Don Joaquin de la Tore,^ a correct copy of the 
above mentioned capitulation. 

You will please transmit this information to all United States offi- 
cers in command of posts and forces to the north. Very respectfully, 
your obedient servant, 

J. C. Fremont 
Lieutenant Colonel U. S. Army 
Capt. W. Maddox 
Military Com'dt. of Middle Dep't of California 

Printed in appendix to Senator Benton's speech opposing the nomination 
of Brigadier General Kearny for major general, Washington Daily Union, 
10 Oct. 1848. 

1. Joaquin de la Torre (ca. 1812-55) had commanded the Californians in 
the skirmish at Olompali and had fought in the Natividad campaign 
(pioneer register). 

119. Robert F. Stockton to Fremont 

Head Quarters 


January 19th. 1847 

In answ^er to your enquiries in regard to the Salaries of the differ- 
ent officers of the Government of California, I enclose to you a letter 
from Mr. Larkin,^ whose experience in the Country had better be 
your guide in relation to that matter until you hear from the Presi- 
dent of the United States." Faithfully, Yr. obdt. servt., 

R. F. Stockton 
To His Excellency 
J. C. Fremont 
Governor of the Territory of California 

Lbk (DNA-45, Entry 395 [E-20-A], Letterbook of Robert F. Stockton, 

1. Larkin's letter not found. 

2. On this day Stockton left for San Diego with a small escort. Soon after 


his departure the California Battalion was paraded, and Russell read pub- 
licly JCF's appointment as governor of California and his own as secretary 

of state (BRYANT, 414). 

120. Fremont to Abel Stearns et at. 


Jany 21st 1847 
To Messrs. 

D. Abel Stearns 

E. Celis' 

C. W. Fliigge 

You are hereby commissioned and authorized by me, as Governor 
of California, to institute and enquire at your earliest convenience 
into the losses of property, whether effected by thefts on the part of 
the soldiers or breakages by the improper violence of the men, or by 
any other means sustained, on the part of the citizens, of the port of 
San Pedro, and of the Ciudad de los Angeles, and its vicinity, whilst 
the same were in possession of the troops of the United States 
whether under command of Commodore Stockton, Genl. Kearny or 
myself, and make report of the same with every particular to me." 

Your acceptance of this commission will be so considered by me 
unless notified to the contrary. Very respectfully Your Obt. Servant, 

J, C. Fremont, 

Governor & Commander in Chief of California 

LS, RC (CSmH). It has already been noted that at the time of the Ameri- 
can conquest, Abel Stearns (1798-1871) was a confidant of Larkin's and a 
most influential citizen of Los Angeles. He was probably also the wealthiest 
man in all of California. Born in Massachusetts, he had emigrated to Mexico 
about 1826 and settled in Los Angeles in 1833 as a trader in hides, tallow, and 
liquor. In 1840 he married Arcadia Bandini, daughter of Juan Bandini, 
and over the next few years gradually expanded his land and cattle holdings 
and built an imposing residence named El Palacio. For an excellent sketch 
of Stearns's activities to 1848, see wric;ht. 

1. Eulogio de Celis (d. 1868) had come to California in 1836 as an em- 
ployee of the Acapulco merchant Henry Virmond, a transplanted German. 
He made Los Angeles his home until 1853, becoming a businessman and 
landowner. See Doc. No. 231 for the cattle contract he made with JCF. 

2. Many of the claims submitted to the commission are in the Stearns 
Papers at the CSmH, but others are scattered in various collections, including 
the T. W. Norris Collection at the CU-B. The approved claims were signed 
by JCF as well as the three commission members, wright, 230, notes that at 
least two summaries of the claims were compiled. One, dated 12 April 1847, 
contained the names of forty-two individuals and totaled more than $5,295; 
the other, dated 29 April, bore twelve names and a total of more than $22,077. 
Stearns was on the second list with a claim of $4,605.50. 

121. Fremont to Felipe Lugo et at. 


21st Jany. 1847 

Don Felipe Lugo 

Don Macedonio Aguilar 

Don Thomas Sanchez 

You are hereby appointed by me as Governor of California a 
board of survey to ascertain the number of cattle killed, and to 
whom they belonged, by the U. S. Forces under the command of 
Commodore Stockton & Genl. Kearney, and report the same with 
all needful particulars to me at your earliest convenience. 

Your acceptance of this commission will be considered a matter of 
course unless you instruct me to the contrary. Very Respectfully, 

J. C. Fremont 
Governor & Commander-in-Chief of California 

Wm. H. Russell 
Secy, of State 

LS, RC (Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History). In Los 
Angeles at one time or another, Felipe Lugo (b. ca. 1808) had been 'luez, 
Macedonio Aguilar (b. ca. 1809) ]uez de campo, and Tomas Sanchez (1802- 
82) collector of taxes. After the American occupation Lugo became a justice 
of the peace and a supervisor, residing at La Mesa. Aguilar acquired that 
portion of Rancho La Ballona, or Wagon Pass, out of which present-day 
Palms was carved. Sanchez was sherif? of Los Angeles County from 1859 to 
1867 (pioneer register; rolle [2], 155). 


122. Fremont's Circular 

[Los Angeles] 
[22 Jan. 1847] 

The peace of the country being restored, and future tranquillity 
vouchsafed by a treaty made and entered into by Commissioners re- 
spectively appointed by the properly authorized California Officers 
on the one hand, and by myself, as Military Commandant of the 
United States Forces in the District of California, on the other, by 
which a civil government is to take place of the Military, an ex- 
change of all prisoners, &c. &c. forthwith ensure to the end that or- 
der and a wholesome civil police should obtain throughout the land. 
A copy of which said treaty will be immediately published in the 
Californian newspaper, published at Monterey. 

Therefore, in virtue of the aforesaid treaty, as well as the functions 
that in me rest as Civil Governor of California, I do hereby proclaim 
order and peace restored to the country, and require the immediate 
release of all prisoners, the return of the civil officers to their appro- 
priate duties, and as strict an obedience of the Military to the civil 
authority as is consistent with the security of peace, and the mainte- 
nance of good order when troops are garrisoned. 

Done at the Capitol of the Territory of California, temporarily 
seated at the Ciudad de los Angeles, this 22d day of January, A. D. 

J. C. Fremont 
Governor and Commander-in-Chief of California 

Witness: W. H. Russell, Secretary of State. 

Printed in the Monterey Californian, 6 Feb. 1847. The same issue carries 
a Spanish translation. The California Star (San Francisco), 6 Feb. 1847, 
gives a slightly different version in English and Spanish. 


123. Fremont to Mariano G. Vallejo 

Angeles Jan 22d. 1847 


I have the honor to transmit you the Commission of a Member of 
a council of State, intended to exercise the functions of a legislative 
body, in the Territorial Government of California. 

Your great influence in the country with the high respect and re- 
gard entertained for your person by the Californians will render 
your services of great value in tranquillizing the people and effect- 
ing the restoration of order and civil Government. 

I shall feel great pleasure in being associated with you in the ac- 
complishment of these objects and trust that it will not be incom- 
patible with your private engagements to accept the post offered 

The bearer, Mr. Knight has always shown attachment to your 
family and a disposition to avert from the Californians the bad con- 
sequences of the Movement in which they were recently engaged. I 
can therefore with some propriety recommend him to your friendly 

With Sentiments of respect and consideration, I am Sir, Your Obt. 

J. C. Fremont, 
Governor & Commander in Chief of California 

Genl. Guadaloupe Vallejo 

LS, RC (CU-B). Addressed. In addition to Vallejo, the new councillors 
were Thomas Oliver Larkin, Juan Bandini, Santiago Argiiello, Jr. ("the 
2nd," as Larkin expresses it), Juan B. Alvarado, David Spence, and EHab 
Grimes (Larkin to Mariano G. Vallejo, 22 Jan. 1847, larkin, 6:16-17). 
Vallejo's appointment was made by Stockton, and JCF merely forwarded the 
commission. For Vallejo's acceptance, see Doc. No. 142. 

The council was to convene at Los Angeles on 1 March, but no meeting 
was ever held. Gillespie placed the blame to some extent on Larkin, writing 
that if he had shown a willingness, all the councillors would have come. But 
Larkin wrote Stockton that even though the commodore had sent the Cyane 
to transport the commissioners from the northern part of California, Com- 
modore Shubrick had prevented her return. "The members could not go by 
land and reach in time. . . . They also objected moving in the business until 
your despatches by Mr. Norris should reach you as they said there were naval 
and military officers on the coast, who could annuU anything you or Colonel 


Fremont might do. . . . Had we endeavoured to open the cession I think 
we should have been prevented" (Gillespie to Larkin, 1 April 1847, and 
Larkin to Stockton, 13 April 1847, larkin, 6:82-83, 100-101). 

124. John Grigsby to Fremont 

City of Angels Jan. 22ncl 47 


A period having arrived in my opinion my services may be dis- 
pensed with I have thought proper to, and do hereby tender to your 
Excellency my resignation of the office of Captain of Company E. of 
the California Regiment, which office I have had the honor to hold 
during the last three months, and which resignation I hope your ex- 
cellency will have the goodness to accept. 

I have the honor to remain Sir, your obt. & humble servt. 

John Grigsby 
Commanding Company E. of the Cal, Regiment 

J. C. Fremont 
Governor & Commander in Chief of the Military Force in California 

ALS, RC (CSmH). 

125. Fremont to Pierson B. Reading 

El Pueblo de los Angeles 
January 23rd. 1847 

In the absence of funds in your department, you are authorized to 
issue due bills, in making settlements with such Troops as shall be 
discharged from the service. Respectfully, etc. 

J. C. Fremont 
Lt. Col. Commdg. Battn. and Govr. of California 

LS, RC (C). 


126. Fremont to Pierson B. Reading 

Head Qrs. California Battn. 


Jany. 23d. 1847 
To Major P. B. Reading 
Paymaster of California Battalion 

In consequence of there being no defined arrangements in the 
Army Regulations for the rank or pay of an Ordnance Officer in a 
command corresponding to my own, I hereby direct you to settle 
with W. H. Russell who discharged the duties of Ordnance Officer, 
as Captain, entitled to full pay as Commandant of a Company, 
which commission he holds under me and to compute his pay from 
the 8th of Oct. 1846 to 21st Jany. 1847 the date of his resignation. 

J. C. Fremont, 
Lt. Col. U S A & Commandr. in Chief of California 

LS, RC (CSmH). 

127. Fremont to Juan Bandini 


Executive Department 
23d Jany. 1847 

Juan Bandini 

The civil department of the government of California being now 
in full operation, and cherishing an anxious desire that the vacant 
offices of Alcalde and other municipal Stations be filled by proper 
and suitable incumbents, and in a manner most acceptable to the 
citizens of the Territory; and reposing entire confidence in your ca- 
pacity and friendly disposition to aid me by suggestion and useful 


I respectfully invite you to meet me in the Executive Council 
room on Tuesday the 26th instant to confer on those various sub- 
jects. Very Respectfully Your Obt. Servt. 

J. C. Fremont 
Governor & Commdr. in Chief of the Territory of California 

LS, RC (CSmH). A few days before JCF wrote this invitation, Stockton 
had named Bandini to the legislative council. 

128. Fremont to John Temple 

[Los Angeles] 
[25 Jan. 1847] 

Received of Mr. John Temple the sum of fifteen hundred dollars 
in cash for the use of the United States, for which sum I promise (in 
the name of the United States as Governor of California) to pay two 
per cent, per month until paid, said percentage being customary in 
this Territory. 

Angeles Capital of California Jany. 25th 1847 

(Signed) J. C. Fremont 
Govr. of California 

I certify the above to be a true copy of the original which I this day 
saw in the possession of Mr. Temple. 

Los Angeles California A. J. Smith^ 

May 13th 1847 1st Drag. 

Copy of enclosure 18 in Kearny to R. Jones, 11 Sept. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-217 1847, f/wK-209 1846). 

1. Capt. Andrew Jackson Smith (1815-97) of the 1st Dragoons had come 
to California with the Mormon Battalion. 


129. Fremont to John K. Wilson 

Angeles, Jany. 25th 1847 

Capt. J. K. Wilson 
Light Artillery 

You are hereby authorized and directed to raise a company of men 
to constitute the second company of Artillery in the California Ser- 
vice, and for that purpose are detached from your present command. 

You will please report the number you may be able to enlist, with 
as little delay as possible. 

You are authorized to enlist the men for 3 months and to promise 
them as compensation twenty five dollars per month. Respectfully, 

J. C. Fremont 
Lt. Col Commanding California Forces in the United States 


Copy of enclosure 4 in Kearny to R. Jones, 11 Sept. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-217 1847, £/w K-209 1846). John K. Wilson was a midshipman on the 


130. John B. Montgomery to Fremont 

U. S. Ship Portsmouth, San Diego, Jan. 26. 1847 

Under the pressure of your many and important engagements at 
this moment, I should not now call your attention to the subject of 
this communication, but for the possibilities that another opportu- 
nity may not be presented. 

Will you therefore do me the favor to acknowledge the receipt of 
two rolls which I forwarded to you by water from San Francisco to 
Monterey in Octo. or Novr. last ex[h]ibiting a statement of clothing 
&c. issued from the Purser's stores of the U, S. Ship Portsmouth under 
my command, to a number of volunteers while on their way to join 
your command at the latter place, stating if you please the ag[g]re- 


gate amt. of said issues as set forth in the rolls — to be deducted from 
the pay accts. of the Volunteers, respectively, on final settlement with 

Purser Watmough will forward your account for the same made 
in the required form — with a receipt annexed — which I will thank 
you to sign which [will] be used as a voucher in settlement with 
Navy Department. I have the Honor to be Sir, Your Obt. Servt., 

Jno. B. Montgomery 
Commander U. S. S. P. 
To his Excely. J. C. Fremont 
Governor of California at the Pueblo de los Angeles 

Lbk (DNA-45, no. 22. Officers' Letters, Letterbooks of J. B. Montgomery). 

131. Fremont to Thomas H. Benton 

[Los Angeles] 
[3 Feb. 1847] 

• • • • 

Knowing well the views of the cabinet, and satisfied that it was a 
great national measure to unite California to us as a sister State, by a 
voluntary expression of the popular will, I had in all my marches 
through the country, and in all my intercourse with the people acted 
invariably in strict accordance with this impression, to which I was 
naturally farther led by my own feelings. I had kept my troops under 
steady restraint and discipline, and never permitted to them a wan- 
ton outrage, or any avoidable destruction of property or life. The 
result has clearlv shown the wisdom of the course I have pur- 
sued. . . } 

When I entered Los Angeles I was ignorant of the relations sub- 
sisting between these gentlemen [Stockton and Kearny], having re- 
ceived from neither any order or information which might serve as 
a guide in the circumstances. I therefore, immediately on my arrival, 
waited upon the governor and commander-in-chief. Commodore 
Stockton ; and, a few minutes afterwards, called upon General Kear- 
ney. I soon found them occupying a hostile attitude, and each deny- 


ing the right of the other to assume the direction of affairs in this 

The ground assumed by General Kearney was, that he held in his 
hand plenary instructions from the President directing him to con- 
quer California, and organize a civil government, and that conse- 
quently he would not recognize the acts of Commodore Stockton. 

The latter maintained that his own instructions were to the same 
effect as Kearney's; that this officer's commission was obsolete, and 
never would have been given could the government have anticipated 
that the entire country, seaboard and interior, would have been con- 
quered and held by himself. The country had been conquered and a 
civil government instituted since September last, the constitution of 
the territory, and appointments under the constitution, had been 
sent to the government for its approval, and decisive action undoubt- 
edly long since had upon them. General Kearney was instructed to 
conquer the country, and upon its threshold his command had been 
nearly cut to pieces, and, but for the relief from him (Commodore 
Stockton) would have been destroyed. More men were lost than in 
General Taylor's battle of the 8th. In regard to the remaining part of 
his instructions, how could he organize a government without first 
proceeding to disorganize the present one? His work had been an- 
ticipated ; his commission was absolutely void, null, and of no effect. 

But if General Kearney believed that his instructions gave him 
paramount authority in the country, he made a fatal error on his 
arrival. He was received with kindness and distinction by the com- 
modore, and offered by him the command of his land forces. Gen- 
eral Kearney rejected the offer, and declined interfering with Com- 
modore Stockton. This officer was then preparing for a march to 
Ciudad de los Angeles, his force being principally sailors and ma- 
rines, who were all on foot (fortunately for them), and who were to 
be provided with supplies on their march through an enemy's coun- 
try where all the people are cavalrv. His force was paraded, and 
ready to start, 700 in number, supported by six pieces of artillery. 
The command, under General Stockton, had been conferred upon 
his first lieutenant, Mr. Rowan." At this juncture General Kearney 
expressed to Commodore Stockton his expectation that the com- 
mand would have been given to him. The commodore informed the 
general that Lieutenant Rowan was in his usual line of duty, as on 
board ship, relieving him of the detail and drudgery of the camp, 


while he himself remained the commander-in-chief; that if General 
Kearney was willing to accept Mr. Rowan's place, under these cir- 
cumstances, he could have it. The general assented. Commodore 
Stockton called up his officers and explained the case. Mr. Rowan 
gave up his post generously and without hesitation; and Commo- 
dore Stockton desired them clearly to understand that he remained 
the commander-in-chief; under this arrangement the whole force 
entered Angeles ; and on the day of my arrival at that place General 
Kearney told me that he did then, at that moment, recognize Com- 
modore Stockton as governor of the territory. 

You are aware that I had contracted relations with Commodore 
Stockton, and I thought it neither right nor politically honorable to 
withdraw my support. No reason of interest shall ever compel me to 
act towards any man in such a way that I should afterwards be 
ashamed to meet him. . . .^ 

Both offered me the commission and post of governor; Commo- 
dore Stockton to redeem his pledge to that effect, immediately, and 
General Kearny offering to give the commission in four or six 
weeks. . . .^ 

I was named Governor, and immediately proclaimed peace and 
order restored to the country; and, like the waters of some small 
lake over which a sudden storm had passed, it subsided instantly into 
perfect tranquility, from one extremity to the other. A Californian 
gentleman, Don Pedro Carillo, arrived yesterday evening from Santa 
Barbara, and told me that he heard a group of boys in the street 
singing to their guitar 

"Vivan los Estados Unidos 
Y viva el Coronel Fremont, 
Quien nos ha aseguardo las vidas." 

"Long live the United States 
And long live Colonel Fremont, 
Who has secured to us our lives.""'' 

Throughout the Californian population, there is only one feeling 
of satisfaction and gratitude to myself. The men of the country, most 
forward and able in the revolution against us, now put themselves at 
my disposition, and say to me, 'Viva usted seguro, duerme usted 
seguro,' (live safe, sleep safe,) 'we ourselves will watch over the 


tranquility of the country, and nothing can happen which shall not 
be known to you.'^ The unavailing dissatisfaction on the part of 
( ) own people, was easily repressed, the treaty was ratified/ 

The incomplete letter printed here has been pieced together by the editors 
from various sources, and there is no assurance that the proper sequence has 
been divined. Before the military court JCF said he would have been willing 
to read his 3 Feb. 1847 letter to Benton to the court as his sole defense had 
it not been for the treatment he had received, "the secret purpose to arrest," 
and the various publications against him. He said that the letter was received 
by Benton in May at St. Louis and was sent to President Polk, "whose en- 
dorsement is on the back, in his own hand writing, stating it to have been 
received from Mr. Christopher Carson on the 8th of June" (ct. martial, 
379-80). The sources from which the letter was extracted are given in the 
notes below. 

1. Extract printed in ct. martial, 380. 

2. Lieut. Stephen Clegg Rowan (1808-90), formerly of the Cyane, served 
as major in the march of Stockton's battalion from San Diego to Los Angeles, 
and was slightly wounded in the battle of the Mesa. He remained in the naval 
service, becoming commodore in 1862; he was on the retired list as vice- 
admiral in 1889. 

3. Printed in bigelow, 197-98. 

4. Extract printed in ct. martial, 393. 

5. Extract from Benton's speech opposing the nomination of Brigadier 
General Kearny for the brevet of major general, Washington Daily Union, 
1 Sept. 1847. 

6. In his Senate speech opposing the nomination of Kearny for the brevet 
of major general, Benton included the Spanish phrase "Estan preparados los 
hijos del pais para softener a usted," which he translated as "The children of 
the country are prepared to sustain you." 

7. Extract printed in ct. martial, 380. 

132. William Speiden to Fremont 

United States Ship Congress, 
San Diego, February 4, 1847 

I have been directed by Commodore Stockton to furnish you with 
any amount of funds that could be disposed of after paying the bills 
of the Government at this place, and I regret to inform you that 
there is not a sufficient sum on hand to liquidate said account. 


The barque Guypuzcouno []6ven Guipuzcoana] is daily expected 
here from the [Hawaiian] Islands with money/ and we also are in 
expectation of the arrival of the Erie from Callao with funds, and 
shall be pleased to attend to your demands so soon as the above ex- 
pectations are realized." 

I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Wm. Speiden 
Purser United States Navy 
His Excellency J. C. Fremont, 
Governor of the Territory of California 

Printed in National hitelligencer, 6 Dec. 1847. One of the documents pre- 
sented to the military court on Friday, 3 Dec. 1847, but not published in the 
official report. 

1. When the Joven Guipuzcoatia did arrive from the Hawaiian Islands, she 
had but half the funds expected (Archibald H. Gillespie to Thomas Oliver 
Larkin, 15 March 1847, larkin, 6:37). However, on 24 Feb. 1847 JCF did 
receive $6,500 at San Diego from purser Speiden (see voucher. Presidential 
Message on the Accounts of John C. Fremont, Senate Exec. Doc. 109, p. 15, 
34th Cong., 1st sess.. Serial 825). 

2. In addition to the $9,000 obtained from Speiden— $2,500 in Aug. 1846 
and $6,500 in Feb. 1847 — IGF had received other money from Navy funds. 
Through Gillespie, he had been paid $10,850 in 1846 as military commandant 
of California; $4,000 as major commanding U.S. forces; and $4,195.40 plus 
$1,338.13 for provisions and clothing as lieutenant colonel, U.S. Army. In 
all, he received $29,383.53 through Gillespie and Speiden from the Navy 
Department (see A. O. Dayton, Fourth Auditor's Office, 15 Aug. 1856, to 
Secretary of Treasury, Presidential Message on the Accounts of John C. 
Fremont, pp. 13-14). 

133. Fremont to Antonio Jose Cot 

[Los Angeles] 
[4 Feb. 18471 

I the undersigned Governor of California, for the United States of 
North America, acknowledge that I have received from Don An- 
tonio Jose Cot, merchant of this city, Two thousand dollars in hard 
cash, which he has furnished this Government for the public service. 
And I bind myself in the name of the United States Government to 
return the said sum within the term of two months from this date, 


paying for interest three per cent per month, or one hundred & 
twenty dollars. But if at the expiration of this term the Government 
should see fit still to make use of these two thousand dollars, Mr. Cot 
agrees that the interest shall run for four months longer at 2 per cent 
per month, or one hundred and sixty dollars for the 4 months. And 
for the fulfillment of what has been stipulated I bind myself as 
Governor of California. 
$2000 Angeles 4th February 1847 J. C. Fremont 

I have furthermore received from the said Mr. Cot the sum of one 
thousand dollars in the terms expressed above. 
$1000 Angeles 20th February 1847 J. C. Fremont 

I have received from Mr. Fremont the sum of one hundred and 
eighty dollars for the interest of two months on the three thousand 
dollars mentioned in this obligation, Angeles 12th April 1847 

Antonio Jose Cot 

A copy of the original 

(Signed) Antonio Jose Cot 

Translated copy enclosed in R. B. Mason to R. Jones, 21 June 1847 (DNA- 
94, LR, M-1113 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Antonio Jose Cot (d. ca. 1860), a 
Spanish trader from Lima, had been the resident manager in Los Angeles of 
Mancisidor and Company. Because he was a Spaniard and supposedly un- 
friendly to Mexican interests, he was ordered out of California in the late 
1820s, but he returned to Los Angeles in the mid-1 830s to engage in com- 
merce. About the time that JCF was borrowing money from him. Cot was 
purchasing San Luis Rey. 

Because of his feud with Kearny, JCF had a most difficult time financing 
his "government" and supplying the California Battalion, but all U.S. 
officials in California lacked money. Lieut. Col. Philip St. George Cooke, 
under the date of 12 March, expressed the situation accurately and humor- 
ously: "Gen. Kearny is supreme — somewhere up the coast; Col. Fremont 
supreme at Pueblo de los Angeles, Commodore Stockton is 'commander-in- 
chief at S. Diego; — Commodore Shubrick, the same at Monterey; and I, at 
San Luis Rey; and we are all supremely poor; the government having no 
money and no credit; and we hold the territory because Mexico is poorest of 
all" (cooKE, 283). 


134. Theodore Talbot et al. to Fremont 


4th Feby. 1847 

His Excellency, 
J. C. Fremont 
Govr. of California 

We constituting the command of Adjt. J. T. Talbot, placed by 
your order at Santa Barbara, were forced by an attack of a much 
superior Californian force, to abandon the town with all the little 
property we then had with us, of which the subjoined account is a 
true & faithful schedule which under the circumstances we think 
ought to be made good to us by the Govt., and respectfully petition 
your Excellency, to approve and order the same to be paid. 

J. T. Talbot Charles Scheiber [Schreiber] 

F[rancis] Briggs Elijah Moulton 

R. E. Russell John Stevens 

Thomas E. Breckenridge William Chenook [Chinook] 

United States Dr. 

Qmr. Dept. 

To J. Theodore Talbot 

Oct. 3d. To 1 saddle complete (2 pair mochisns) $40.00 

1 pair Spurs— 6.00; 1 Bridle— 5.00 11.00 

9 Shirts @ $3. 27.00 

1 Suit of Fine Blue Cloth 36.50 

2 pr. pants @ 5.00 10.00 

1 pair Bottas 12.00 

2 Blankets @ 8.00 16.00 


Received of Jacob R. Snyder^ Qr. Master California Battalion, 
U. States Troops the sum of one hundred fifty dollars amount of 
above bill. 
Angeles, Feb. 6, 1846 [1847] J. Theodore Talbot 


United States Dr. 

QMr. Dept. 

To Robert E. Russell 

Oct. 3d. To 1 Bridle 10.50 

1 pr. of spurs 5.00 

1 Blanket 7.50 

5 Calico shirts @ 3.00 15.00 

1 pair of pants 10.00 

1 silk handkf . 2.50 


Received of Jacob R. Snyder Quartermaster, California Battalion 
the sum of fifty-50/100 dollars in full. 

R. E. Russell 











United States Dr. 
Qmr. Dept. 

To Thos. E. Breckenridge 
Oct. 3d. To 3f yds of Blue Cloth 
1 pr. pants 

1 Blanket 

3 shirts 3.00 

2 Cotton Hdkfs. 

1 Saddle complete 
1 Bridle 
1 Spur 

Reed, of Jacob R. Snyder Quartermaster, California Battalion, the 
sum of $89.25/100 in full. 

Thomas E. Breckenridge 

United States Dr. 

Qmr. Dept. 

To Francis Briggs 

Oct. 3d. To 1 saddle complete 16.00 

1 Bridle 7.00 

1 pr. Spurs 6.00 

1 pr. pants 4.00 

2 Shirts 4.00 


1 Blanket 3.00 


Received of Jacob R. Snyder, Quartermaster of California Bat- 
talion the sum of Forty dollars in full of above account. 

F. Briggs 

Angeles, March 9f?l 1847 

United States Dr. 

Qmr. Dept. 

To Charles Screiber [Schreiber] 

Oct. 3d. To Two good Blankets SIO.OO 

2 Hickory Shirts 6.00 
Shaving apparatus 3.00 


Received of J. R. Snyder, Quartermaster of California Battalion 
U. States Forces the sum of nineteen dollars amount of above bill, 
Angeles Feb. 17th. 1847 Charles Schreiber 

United States Dr. 
Qmr. Dept. 

To John Stephens [Stevens] 

Oct. 3d. To 1 saddle complete $45.00 

1 Bridle & 1 pr. Spurs 

Received of Jacob R. Snyder Quartermaster of California Battalion 
U. States Forces the sum of 45 dollars amt. of above bill. 
Angeles, March 9th. 1847 John Stevens 

United States Dr. 

Qmr. Dept. 

To E. Moulton 

Oct. 3d. To 1 Saddle & Bridle $ 8.00 

1 pr. pants 3.00 

1 pr. Drawers 2.00 

1 shirt 3.00 


Received of Jacob R. Snyder Quartermaster of California Bat- 


talion U. States Forces, the sum of sixteen dollars amt. of above bill 

Angeles, March 9, 1847 E. X Moulton 


United States Dr. 

Qmr. Dept. 

To William Chenook 


Oct. 3d. To 1 Saddle with rigging $20.00 

2 Blankets 8.00 
1 coat 10.00 

3 yds. of Blue Cloth 18.00 
1 spurs 3.00 
1 pr. drawers. 2.00 


Received of Jacob R. Snyder Quartermaster of California Battalion 
U. S. Troops the sum of Sixty one dollars amount of above bill. 

Angeles, Apr. 18, 1847 William X Chenook 

Witness: P. B. Reading 

The above accounts are accordingly hereby approved. 

J. C. Fremont, 
February 5th. 1847 Govr. of California 

DS (DNA-92, enclosed in ]. R. Snyder to Col. C. F. Smith, 25 Oct. 1853, 
Vouchers, Receipts, and Other Papers Relating to the Settlement of Claims, 
1847-48 [unarranged]. Microfilm Roll 8). The letter and the claims are 
in the hand of Theodore Talbot and are typical of the smaller claims. JCF 
had also placed two other men at Santa Barbara with Talbot — a French 
Creole, St. Vrain Durand, and a "New Mexican Spaniard" named Manuel. 
Except for Schreiber, Durand, Moulton, and Manuel, the young men were all 
about twenty years of age (memoirs, 596; Califor?jia Claims, Senate Report 
75, pp. 52-54, 30th Cong., 1st sess.. Serial 512). R. Eugene Russell was a son 
of William H. Russell, JCF's secretary of state. William Chinook was the 
Oregon Indian boy whom JCF had taken east when he returned from his 
1H43-44 expedition. Under the name of William Perkins he was discharged 
on 16 June 1847 at Johnson's farm. Upper California. Schreiber, whose 
second given name seems to have been Frederix, was an 1833 German emigre 
and a friend of Ckorge Engelmann and Gustave Koerner. After his service 
with JCF, he became a farmer in St. Clair County, 111. In addition to 


Schreiber, Talbot, Russell, Breckenridge, and Chinook had all been members 
of JCF's third expedition. 

1. Born in Philadelphia, Jacob Rink Snyder (1812-78) had come from 
Missouri to California in 1845 and with several others, including William 
Blackburn, commenced the business of whip-sawing lumber and making 
shingles from the redwoods near Santa Cruz — a business which they con- 
tinued until the outbreak of hostilities between the Californians and Ameri- 
cans. Snyder then joined JCF's battalion as quartermaster. After the war he 
was successively and sometimes simultaneously: surveyor general of the 
Middle Department of California, a member of the banking firm of James 
King of William, a state senator, assistant treasurer of the U.S. mint at San 
Francisco, president of the Society of California Pioneers, and a Sonoma 
rancher. For additional biographical details, see "Excerpts from the Memorial 
... to Major Jacob Rink Snyder," Quarterly of the Society of California 
Pioneers, 8 (1931):203-5. 

135. Fremont to Louis McLane 



5th Feby 1847 

I feel it my duty as the representative of the United States govern- 
ment in CaHfornia to instruct you to proceed forthwith North as far 
as in your discretion may seem necessary, and exercise your best ef- 
forts in enlisting troops for the term of six months, compensation to 

be S per month, to be employed in the service of the United 

States, and at such points in the territory of California as in my judg- 
ment they are most required. 

You are furthermore instructed to proceed as far as the town of 
Yerba Buena on the San Francisco bay, and examine diligently into 
the state of the naval or military defence of that town, and particu- 
larly to enquire into the best means of fortifying the mouth of the 
bay against the ingress of all enemies, and I particularly recommend 
to you to cause to be commenced the erection of a fort or battery on 
White island, calculated, when completed to prevent the entrance 
of any ship or vessel that may be forbidden to do so by said United 

To enable you to carry into effect the foregoing instructions you 
are hereby authorized, and required to call on all officers under my 
command to extend to you any assistance of money, men, or prop- 
erty that in your judgment may be necessary to accomplish the same. 


In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my 
seal, at the capital of California, this date before written/ 

J. C. Fremont 
Governor of California 

Wm. H. Russell 
Sec of State 


Major Louis McLane 
U. States Army 
California Regt. 

LS, RC (DNA-94, LR, K-217 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Endorsed: "Reed. 
by Genl K. from Mr. McLane March 3d. '47." This was enclosure 15 in 
Kearny to R. Jones, 11 Sept. 1847, and is in support of Kearny's charges 
against JCF. 

1. McLane "reluctantly" went north to raise men and money. When he 
reached Monterey, Commodore Shubrick terminated his mission (mc lane, 

136. Fremont to James Buchanan 

Pueblo de los Angeles 
Feby. 6th. 1846 [1847] 

Hon. James Buchanan 
Sec. of State 

The civil government which in various parts of California had 
been temporarily suspended by a dangerous insurrection being hap- 
pily again in full and vigorous operation, throughout the territory, 
and having myself recently, and in fulfillment of the arrangements 
transmitted for your consideration in September last, been appointed 
to the office of chief magistrate of the country, I have thought it im- 
portant and necessary in the discharge of my official relations to 
draw immediately your attention to our actual necessities, and to 
present for your approval such measures as the security of the ter- 
ritory and the public interest have rendered it urgently expedient 


to adopt. The great embarrassment that I at present experience as 
the principal representative of the United States government is the 
want of money to enable me to pay off the troops under my com- 
mand; and to cancel such other obligations, as I have been com- 
pelled to come under in prosecuting a war in a country where no 
supplies whatever were furnished me by my own government, and 
where most articles are scarce and extravagantly high. 

I consider the temper of the Californians decidedly favorable to 
annexation with the United States, and I see no obstacle to the entire 
accomplishment of the views of my government regarding this 
country, but an adequate and regular supply of money. 

The credit system is but little understood in this country where the 
manner of the people are primitive and simple and finance but little 
known. For example I could buy easily a horse or mule for fifteen 
dollars cash, when I could not get him for less than thirty dollars 
credit, if indeed I could get him at all. 

I have also been compelled to raise money at the most usurious 
rates of interest to avoid the falsification of pledges that I have made 
as an officer of the United States, and which threatened if not re- 
deemed, to be likely to produce mutiny and dissatisfaction among 
the troops and generally to be productive of the worst consequences. 
I have made the foregoing representation which really falls short of 
my distress for the want of money, to prove the necessity of my 
being furnished forthwith with an adequate supply, and regularly 
hereafter be kept in funds so as to avoid a recurrence of the diffi- 
culties that I have had to contend with for the want of it. 

In the absence of instructions from the United States predicated on 
a certainty of what has occurred in this remote region, where a regu- 
lar and uniform correspondence cannot exist, I have considered an 
early meeting of the representatives of the people essentially pru- 
dent, as well to furnish undoubted proof that our designs in this 
favoured land are to make it an integral part of our republican gov- 
ernment, as to adopt some wholesome municipal regulations abso- 
lutely required by the late unsettled condition of aflfairs. A proclama- 
tion has accordingly been already issued that the first assembly or 
convocation of the legislative council shall take place on the 1st of 
March proximo. With a view to conciliate the feelings of the people 
and secure at as early a day as possible the adjustment of many vexed 
and harrassing claims, I have established several boards of Commis- 
sioners with full and plenarv power to institute enquiries, and audit 


all claims occasioned [ ?] by spoilations committed by the American 
troops during the progress of the recent insurrection. The commis- 
sioners have been selected with a due regard to their integrity and 
capacity, and I respectfully recommend that by your ratification the 
results of their investigations be made definitive and binding upon 
the government. The large majority of the claimants are poor people 
and payment cannot be long delayed to them without creating great 

This letter will be handed to you by Mr. Theodore Talbot, a 
young gentleman of your city who accompanied me on the recent 
Exploring Expedition, and whose continued presence in this country 
during the progress of the events which induced the present change, 
together with his general ability and habits of observation, will make 
him useful in conveying to you a clear and accurate knowledge of 
California. This made a principal reason in selecting him as the 
bearer of these despatches to you ; my own situation being one of so 
much difficulty, and so much embarrassed by uncertainty, that I feel 
it impossible in the midst of many causes for anxiety and through 
incessant interruptions and calls on my attention, to furnish you 
with a connected history of events here. It may be due myself as an 
officer of the U. States government, cherishing the fullest regard to 
discipline and submission to the properly constituted civil authorities 
at home, and at all times anxiously inclined to support the dignity 
of our Government, to add; that I hold my office as do all others 
under me by no stronger tenure than the will of the President, and 
am ready at any moment to lay it down, or observe a contrary course 
touching the municipal regulations of the country, when the plea- 
sure of the President is made known to me. 

In conclusion I respectfully offer for your consideration my remote 
position and want of information as a justification of any infor- 
malities of official conduct. My principal objects have always been 
the interest and the approbation of my government, and in the pur- 
suit of these great ends my measures have been such as I regard inci- 
dental to the extraordinary powers I am called upon to exercise, and 
to the large discretion which must always be permitted to the gov- 
ernor of a province so remote as California. 

With sentiment of great consideration and personal regard, I have 
the honor to be Your Obedt. Servt. 

J. C. Fremont, 
Governor of California 


ALS, RC (DNA-107, LR, S-215 [65]). On the first page of the letter ap- 
pears this notation: "June 4th. 1847. Reed, from Mr. Talbot personally & 
referred to the Secretary of War." Endorsed: "Department of State 4 June 
1847. The within communication from Colonel Fremont is respectfully 
referred to the Secretary of War; because the Government of California being 
derived from the War making power & resting upon military authority, that 
officer ought to receive his instructions from the War Department. James 

In a letter to Stephen Watts Kearny, 11 June 1847, Secretary of War Wil- 
liam L. Marcy mentioned that a letter to the Secretary of State from JCF, 
dated 3 Feb. 1847, had been referred to him. Since it likewise, dwelt on the 
need for money, Marcy has probably made a mistake on the date, and the 
so-called 3 Feb. letter is really the 6 Feb. letter {New Mexico aitd California, 
House Exec. Doc. 70, pp. 28-31, 30th Cong., 1st sess.. Serial 521). 

137. Fremont to W. Branford Shubrick 


7 Feby. 1847 

I had the honor at a late hour of last night, to receive your favor of 
the 25th ultimo,^ and fully coinciding with the opinion that you 
express, that a cooperation of our respective commands, as a precau- 
tionary measure at least, is of primary importance, I hasten to ack- 
nowledge its receipt, and signify to you my earnest desire to see you 
and consult on the measures calculated in our judgments to be the 
most certain of making our labors conduce to the interest of our 

Not having had as you remarked any communication since your 
arrival on this coast with Commodore Stockton, you seem not to 
have been made acquainted with the fact that by a commission from 
the Commodore I had been placed in command of the territory, as 
civil Governor, which I beg leave herewith to communicate to you. 

It is also proper to advise you that Genl. Kearney, who comes to 
California with instruction from the Sec of War, dated as early as 
June last, (designed for a state of affairs which he by no means 
found, to wit, the country still unconquered, and which of course 
being intended for that very different circumstances, cannot have ap- 
plication here) claims himself to have supreme command in Cali- 
fornia, which position I felt it my duty to deny him, and in language 
respectful but decisive of my purpose communicated to him. 


The subjoined reasons led me to the conclusion I adopted; = The 
conquest of California was undertaken and completed by the joint 
efforts of Commodore Stockton & myself in obedience to what we 
regarded paramount duties from us to our Governt; = that done, 
the next necessary step in order, was the organization of a civil gov- 
ernment designed to maintain the conquest by the exercise of mild 
and wholesome civil restraints over the people rather than by the 
iron rule of a military force. 

The result of our labors, which were precisely what' were con- 
templated by the instructions of Genl. Kearney, were promptly com- 
municated to the Executive of the Union by an express which has 
not yet brought back the approval or disapproval of the Govt. 

Genl. Kearney's instructions being therefore to the letter fully 
anticipated by others; = I did not feel myself at liberty to yield a 
position so important to the interests of my country until, after a 
full understanding of all the grounds, it should be the pleasure of my 
government that I should do so. 

I trust the foregoing explanation will fully satisfy you that the 
position I take is an incident to the extraordinary circumstances 
surrounding me, and is borne out by a rigid adherence to the line of 

The insurrection which broke out here in September last, and 
which it required a considerable force and a large expenditure of 
money to put down, has left me in rather an embarrassed condition 
for funds to redeem my engagements to my men, and to cancel the 
necessary obligations created by the Quartermaster and Commis- 
sariat departments of the Command; = If, therefore, you can at an 
early day advance me a considerable sum of money it will tend 
greatly to subserve the interests of the country and relieve an em- 
barrassment which as an officer of the Govt, heavily presses me. 

I start off simultaneous with this a courier to the United States 
with important despatches, but thinking perhaps that you might 
wish to avail yourself of so good an opportunity of forwarding des- 
patches, I have ordered him to remain on the border of the settle- 
ments until the return of my courier from you. The precise point 
where my courier will remain recruiting his animals being at this 
time unknown to me, you will please send your despatches by the 
return courier to me and I will forward them to the party home- 
ward bound. 


With considerations of high respect, I am sir, your obedt. servt. 

J. C. Fremont 
Governor of California 

Commodore W. Branford Shubrick 
Commanding U. S. Naval Forces in the Pacific Ocean 
Bay of Monterey 

ALS, RC (DNA-94, LR, K-217 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Endorsed: "Re- 
ceived 13 Feby. 1847, W. B. S." "Reed, from Com. S. March 1, S. W. K." 
Enclosure 5 in Kearny to R. Jones, 11 Sept. 1847, and used in support of the 
military charges against JCF. Copy in DNA-45, Area 9 File, Pacific. William 
Branford Shubrick (1790-1874), who had arrived at Monterey on the Inde- 
pendence on 22 Jan., replaced Stockton as commander of the Pacific Squadron 
by reason of seniority. After his superior officer, Commodore James Biddle, 
arrived on the Columbus in early March, Shubrick took command of the 
squadron blockading Mexican ports. However, he is best remembered for his 
command of the expedition sent to settle difficulties with Paraguay in 1858-59. 

1. Shubrick's letter to JCF of 25 Jan. has not been found. 

138. Juan B. Alvarado to Fremont 

[10 Feb. 1847] 

In the port of Monterey of Upper California on the tenth day of 
the month of February in the year of One Thousand eight hundred 
and forty-seven, before me Walter Colton, Justice of the Peace of 
this demarcation, and before the subscribing witnesses, appeared 
Don Juan Bta. Alvarado and says: That for himself and in the 
name of his wife Da. Martina Castro de Alvarado and other heirs 
and successors, and whoever of them shall have title, voice and re- 
pute in whatever manner, he sells and conveys in public sale and 
perpetual alienation by right of inheritance forever and ever to John 
C. Fremont, a tract which belongs to him in ownership, by conces- 
sion made to him by the Most Excellt. Sefior Commandant Gen- 
eral and Governor of the Department Don Manuel Micheltorena, 
with date 29th Feby 1844. Said tract is called "Las Mariposas" it has 
an extent of ten sitios de ganado mayor,^ and is situated between the 
limits of the Sierra Nevada and the Rivers known by the name of 


Chauchilas [Chowchilla], de la Merced and San Joaquin. The ven- 
dor declares that he has not alienated nor burdened it, and that it is 
free from every public burden, and as such he sells it to the pur- 
chaser in the price of three thousand dollars ($3000) which he has 
received to his entire satisfaction ; that henceforth he may use it and 
dispose of the dominion, ov^^nership and other whatever right may 
aid him in the said tract, renouncing it and transferring it to the 
purchaser, that he may dispose of it, as of his own thing: the vendor 
obligating himself that this sale shall be certain, secure and effective 
to him, (the vendor) and that he will not disturb him, or institute a 
law suit against him, and that in all cases if there shall be any claim 
set up, he will be bound to indemnify the purchaser for all the 
damages and prejudices which may have been occasioned to him. 
To which effect, he transfers on this date to the purchaser, the said 
title of concession, and to the observance of all the foregoing he obli- 
gates all his property present and future, and with them he submits 
himself to the Laws and to Jurisdiction of the Judge who may have 
cognizance of his causes, in order to compel him to its fulfilment, 
and oblige him, as if by final judgement, admitted and passed in 
authority of a thing adjudged, renouncing the laws which might 
favor him in the promises. 

(Signed) Juan B. Alvarado. 

(Signed) Walter Colton^ 
Chief Magistrate 
Witness Wm. Ed. Hartnell 
Witness Wm. R. Garner^ 

On said day, month, and year, appeared also before me and the 
said Witnesses, Da. Martina Castro de Alvarado, wife of Don Juan 
Bta. Alvarado and said: That in her name and those of her heirs and 
successors, and of whoever of them shall have title, voice and repute, 
in whatever manner, she gives for well sold the before mentioned 
place, and that she spontaneously and voluntarily renounces all right 
which she and her said heirs may have to it. 

(Signed) Martina Castro de Alvarado 


Wm. R. Garner 


Wm. Ed. Hartnell 


Walter Colton 

Chief Magistrate of Monterey 

Office of California Land Commission 
Los Angeles, Septr. 27th. 1852 
I certify the foregoing to be a true and correct Translation of the 
original on file in this office in Case No. L 

(Signed) Geo. Fisher 
Filed in Office Septr. 18th. 1852 

(Signed) Geo. Fisher 

Translated copy (DNA-49. California Private Land Claims Dockets, 
Docket 1, pp. 88-89). The original documents by which Las Mariposas was 
conveyed to Alvarado and then to JCF were first located in the archives at 
Monterey, but with the conclusion of the American conquest, those pertain- 
ing to land titles were placed in the Office of the U.S. Surveyor for California 
in San Francisco. Here they remained until 1906, when they were destroyed 
by fire following the earthquake. Fortunately, copies may be found in Docket 
1, which is the transcript of the proceedings in the case before the Board of 
U.S. Lind Commissioners, the District Court of the United States for the 
Northern District of California, and the Supreme Court. 

Larkin purchased Las Mariposas for JCF and charged him a commission 
of 7^ percent, or $225 (crampton, 27). Located not far from Yosemite Valley. 
the vast grant was to cause JCF endless trouble, and it was not until 19 Feb. 
1856 that he received a U.S. patent. It was a "floating grant," with no set 
boundaries, and the vendor's title was by no means absolute. Because of the 
Indian menace, Alvarado had been unable to comply with the provisions for 
survey and settlement; in addition, one of terms of the grant had forbidden 
the sale or alienation of the property. The legal problems were further com- 
plicated by the discovery of gold in 1849. 

Before he left California in June 1847, JCF sought the aid of a friend in 
establishing a settlement on the grant. He gave a power of attorney to 
Pierson B. Reading, who sent Joseph W. Buzzell with men, money, and 
equipment to build a house and corral, but Indian hostility forced the aban- 
donment of Buzzell's four attempts to occupy Las Mariposas (crampton, 

En route to California in 1849, JCF encountered a party of Sonorans on 
their way to the goldfields. He made arrangements with them to proceed to 
Las Mariposas and work the gold that he believed could be found there, on a 
fifty-fifty basis (Jessie B. Fremont, "Creat Events during the Life of Major 
General John C. Fremont," pp. 98, 109, CU-B). Apparently Alexander Godey 
went along to supervise them and to prospect for gold. In the summer of 
1849 JCF visited the grant and had Charles Preuss survey and draft a map of 
the tract (William C. Jones's testimony to the Board of California Land 
Commissioners, DNA-49, California Private Land Claims Dockets, Docket 1, 
p. 99). This map seems not to have been preserved, but in a letter to a friend 
JBF indicates that her husband had paid Preuss $500 for some 1849 services 


in California (JBF to Elizabeth Blair Lee, 4 May [1857?], NjP— Blair-Lee 

1. Ranges for a lot of cattle, or ten leagues. 

2. A Congregationalist minister and former journalist, Walter Colton 
(1797-1851) had served as naval chaplain aboard the Congress before being 
appointed alcalde at Monterey by Commodore Stockton. At the time of the 
Mariposa transaction he was publishing the Calijornian with Robert Semple 
and gathering material for his famous Three Years in California, which was 
published in 1850 after he left California (drury). 

3. An English sailor who had been forcibly put ashore in California in 1824 
by the captain of a whaler, William Robert Garner (1803-49) was secretary, 
translator, and guide to Walter Colton. At Colton's urging. Garner began 
writing a series of letters on California which were to appear in 1847 and 
1848 in the Philadelphia North American and United States Gazette and in 
the New York Journal of Commerce. In 1970 the letters were collected and 
edited and may be found In garner, along with a biographical sketch of their 

139. Fremont to Willard P. Hall 

Government House 
Angeles, 11th Feby. 1847 

Hon. Willard P. Hall 

The position I occupy as the chief representative of the U. S. Gov- 
ernment in California, renders it an imperative duty on me, that I 
should prudently but with energy exert all the power with which I 
am clothed to retain the conquest we have made, and strengthen it 
by all means possible. 

The Executive Office of California, which I understand centers 
supreme civil and military command in the territory was actually as- 
signed me as early as September last, and my entering on the duties 
of the same was postponed only in consequence of an insurrection 
that broke out in this portion of the territory, which it took some 
months to quell; that done I assumed the office of Govr., as had been, 
previously arranged. 

I learn with surprise and mortification that Genl. Kearney, in 
obedience to what I cannot but regard as obsolete instructions from 
the Sec. of War, means to question my right, and viewing my posi- 
tion and claim clear and indisputable I cannot without considering 


myself derelict to my trust and unworthy the station of an American 
officer, yield or to permit myself to be interfered with by any other, 
until directed to do so, by the proper authorities at home predicated 
on full and ample despatches that I forwarded to Washington as 
early as August of last year. 

I require the cooperation, with a view to the important object of 
preserving the peace and tranquility of California, of every Ameri- 
can citizen and soldier in the territory and must expressly inhibit 
from all quarters all arguments and intimations that may tend to 
weaken my authority by inducing the belief that my present position 
is an act of usurpation, unjust, and will not be sanctioned by my 

Intimations, not perhaps susceptible of positive proof, have reached 
me that you were using your talents, and high character as a member 
of the American Congress, in your intercourse with the citizens of 
this place and the troops under my immediate command to raise 
doubts, if not questioning altogether the legitimacy or validity of 
my tenure of office. 

I feel myself constrained therefore in obedience to the behests, and 
high interests of my government, as well as the respect I cherish for 
the position you occupy to enquire of you in frankness whether the 
intimations alluded to have any foundation in fact or truth. 

Cherishing a confident belief that you must on reflection concur 
with me, in thinking, that at this juncture, any move calculated to 
weaken me, or embarrass, must be inexpedient and improper, I trust 
a frank negative answer from you will dissipate my doubts, and 
admonish me that the enquiry I have made was altogether unneces- 
sary. With considerations of high respect I am your obt. servt. 

J. C. Fremont 
Governor of California 

LS, RC {DNA-94, LR. K-217 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Addressed and en- 
dorsed. Enclosure 6 in Kearny to R. Jones, 11 Sept. 1847, and presented 
against JCF at the court-martial as evidence that he was endeavoring to per- 
suade Hall, a man of influence, to aid and abet him in resisting and making 
mutiny against Kearny. 

Willard P. Hall (1820-82) was a young lawyer who had enlisted as a 
private in the 1st Missouri Cavalry under Col. Alexander W. Doniphan soon 
after the beginning of the Mexican War. On the Santa Fe Trail, word 
reached him that he had been elected to Congress from his home district, but 
he continued on with the troops and helped to construct the code of civil 
laws known as the "Kearny code" for New Mexico. He went on to Cali- 


fornia with the Mormon Battalion and returned east with General Kearny to 
take his seat in the House of Representatives — belatedly, for the term had 
begun on 4 March. During the Civil War Hall served first as provisional 
lieutenant governor and later as governor of Missouri. In his testimony at 
JCF's court-martial Hall indicated that his position in California was that of 
a private in Company C of the first regiment of Missouri Mounted Volun- 
teers (CT. MARTIAL, 209). 

140. Jacob R. Snyder to Edward M. Kern 

Angeles Feb. 11th. 1847 
Dr. Sir 

Thirty Saddles and thirty two horses, you will please to receive 
from the Tularie Indians, who have been in the employ of the U. 
States Government; Should the Indians not bring in the horses and 
saddles Please send for them. 
By order of Lieut. Col. J. C. Fremont 

Jacob R. Snyder 
Jose Jesus^ is the Chief of the tribe. 

ALS, RC (CSmH). 

1. Siyakum chief Jose Jesus and his people occupied the area between 
French Camp Slough and the Stanislaus River. The chief had long been un- 
friendly to the Californians, and he and some of his warriors were enlisted 
by Sutter for Company H of the California Battalion ( Rogers [3]; Bancroft, 

141. W. Branford Shubrick to Fremont 

U. S. ship Independence 
Monterey, February 13th. 1847 

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 
7th instant, and shall detain your courier as short a time as possible, 
for my answer, and will also avail myself of your kind offer to for- 
ward despatches to the United States. 


When I wrote to you on the 25th ultimo, I was not informed of 
the arrival of Brigadier General Kearny in California, and addressed 
you as the Senior Officer of the Army in the Territory. On the 28th, 
however, having understood that the General was at "Los Angeles," 
I addressed a similar letter to him. 

On the 8th instant, General Kearny arrived in this harbor, in the 
sloop of war "Cyane", and left by the same conveyance, on the 11th 
for San Francisco. While the General was here we consulted freely, 
as enjoined on me by my instructions, and on him by his, on the 
measures necessary to be taken by us for the security of the Territory 
of California.^ 

I am looking daily for the arrival of Commodore Stockton in this 
harbor, when I shall of course receive from him a full account of 
the measures taken by him while in command of the Squadron. 

It is to be hoped that the pleasure of the President of the United 
States on this subject of the organization of a civil government, and 
of the measures taken by Commodore Stockton and yourself, may 
be soon known; and it will give me pleasure at all times, to cooperate 
with the Civil Government as well as with the Military Commander 
in Chief for the peace and security of the Territory. 

I regret to say that not anticipating any unusual draft on them, the 
funds brought with me are barely sufficient with the most economi- 
cal expenditure to meet the wants of the Squadron. I am, Very Re- 
spectfully, Sir, Your Obedt. Servt.^ 

W. Branford Shubrick 
Commander in Chief 
United States Naval Forces. 
Lieut. Colonel Fremont &c. &c. &c. 
"Los Angeles." 

Copy (DNA-45, Area 9 File, Pacific). 

1. More than a month later, and after the receipt of new instructions from 
Washington, Kearny wrote an account of his visit with Shubrick which 
indicates that on 8 Feb. he was indeed in doubt about the supremacy of 
his civil authority in California (see CT. martial, 96-99). 

2. On the same day Shubrick wrote the Secretary of the Navy that he 
felt the appointment of JCF was "prematurely taken by Commodore Stock- 
ton." But since the appointment had been communicated to the president in 
August, he soon expected more information and would therefore await such 
information, "and confine myself for the present to arrangements for the 
quiet possession of the territory, and for the blockade of the coast of Mexico" 
(Shubrick to George Bancroft, 13 Feb. 1847, ct. martial, 296). Later Stock- 
ton questioned Shubrick's ethics in expressing himself so frankly to the 

Secretary of the Navy. In the unpleasant correspondence that resulted between 
the two naval officers, Shubrick sought the advice of his friend James Feni- 
more Cooper in answering Stockton (Cooper to Shubrick, 5 Aug. 1849, 
J. F. COOPER, 6:58-62). 

142. Mariano G. Vallejo to Fremont 

Sonoma, 15 Feb. 1847 
Governor J. C. Fremont 
Respected Sir: 

I received with gratitude your favorable [letter] of the past 22 of 
January enclosing the honorable commission Your Excellency R. F. 
Stockton had conferred upon me. The desire burns in me incessantly 
that in this, the country of my birth, the peace, order and prosperity 
of w^hich it is capable will reign and that it will be the consequence 
of a wise and just government and it has been very flattering that 
without meriting it, you have found me capable of contributing 300 
pesos to the big enterprise of regenerating this Dept. assigning me a 
place in the council that must be organized and if I have accepted the 
delicate task it is only because I have confidence and depend more in 
the cleverness and patriotism of my dignified colleagues than in my 
poor ability, which is very insufficient, for performing such an 
arduous assignment of whose requirements I am still ignorant. 

With no less pleasure than that which you show in your aforesaid 
[letter] I forsee positive advantages for the country as a result of your 
cooperation and I hope to see realized the wishes that you express 
in the same [letter] concerning the restoration of the order and tran- 
quility that are so needed. 

You have always seen me, when the circumstances required it, to 
subordinate my own interest to that of the public well-being and to 
abandon the repose and domestic comfort to work hard for the well- 
being of my fellow citizens; I find myself now still in the same 
patriotic mood and to prove it, I have not been stopped by reason of 
conscience or by my deteriorated health or by the class of prisoner in 
which I still find myself and I shall be ready to start my march as 
soon as the H. Sr. D. T. O. Larkin, who wrote to me that he was 
coming to Yerba Buena to lead the members of the Council, arrives, 
and even without waiting for him I would have left today if my fail- 


ing health, which would be now worsened by the navigation had 
not prevented it. 

We have favorably viewed your recommendation in favor of M. 
Knight as we shall always do with respect to any order that you 
wish to give us. 

Yours truly, with the most high esteem, kisses your hand. 


AL, translation of a draft in CU-B. The letter actually sent has apparently 
been lost. Before surrendering the governorship of the conquered territory of 
California to JCF in Jan. 1847, Stockton had appointed Vallejo to the legisla- 
tive council (see Doc. No. 123). 

143. Robert F. Stockton to Fremont 

U. S. Frigate Congress 
Harbour of San Diego 
February 16th. 1847 
My Dear Sir, 

Will you do me the favour to appoint Don Santiago Arguello,^ 
Collector for this port in the place of Don Pedro C. Carrillo, who has 
removed to Santa Barbara. 

We have but three days bread on board and no money; I shall 
therefore remain here until I get money, Bread and Despatches. 

On Monday next is the 22nd of February. Suppose you come down 
to San Diego on Sunday with your Suite, and visit the Ship on Mon- 
day; when I will give a fete in honor of the day and the Governor. 
Faithfully, Yr. obdt. servt., 

R. F. Stockton 
To His Excellency 
Governor J. C. Fremont 
Ciudad de los Angeles 

P. S. 

Bring Russell along to write an account of it for the Californian, 
for the edification of General Kearny. 

Lbk (DNA-45, Entry 395 [E-20-A], Letterbook of Robert F. Stockton, 
1846-47). Philip St. Ceorge Cooke records that the "Secretary of State" 

(Russell) stopped at the Mission San Luis Rey on the evening of 21 Feb. He 
was on his way to San Diego to represent the government at the ball (cooke, 

1. Santiago E. Argiiello (ca. 1813-57), acting as captain, had enrolled a 
company in San Diego in Dec. 1846 to serve three months in the California 
Battalion. JCF granted Stockton the favor requested in this letter, and 
Argiiello served as collector of the port of San Diego until June 1847. 

144. Fremont to Pierson B. Reading 

Angeles February 16th 1847 


In efTecting settlements with the officers connected with the Bat- 
taHon, you are authorized to allow in their accounts Forage and ser- 
vant hire as specified in the Pay Table without requiring of them 
certificates of having constantly kept or employed the horses and 
servants as allowed agreeably to their respective ranks. Respectfully, 

J. C. Fremont, 
Lieut. Col. Comm'd'g. Battn. and Governor of California 

LS, RC (C). 

145. Fremont to Archibald H. Gillespie 


17 Feby. 1847 

I avail myself of a momentary freedom, or respite from a vexatious 
headache to reply to your communication of yesterday's date. 

Recognizing Commodore Stockton as civil and military Governor 
of California, and thereby invested with full power to represent & 
bind the U. S. government in all his official acts, and of course, the 
rate of pay promised to the Vols [Volunteers] ;— I feel as his succes- 
sor as if I had no other election than to ratify all the promises and 
engagements entered into by him whilst acting as Govr. 

1 therefore, authorize and require all his contracts with the Vols, 
to be redeemed to the letter, without expressing any opinion as to 


the propriety of the measures adopted by him. Very Respectfully 
Your Obt. servt., 

}. C. Fremont 
Govr. of California 
To Arch. H. Gillespie 
Major Califa. Battln. 

LS, RC (CLU — Gillespie Papers). Addressed. Endorsed: "Col. Fremont in 
reply to inquiry in relation to an increase of pay from $10 to $25. Los 
Angeles, Feby. 17th 1847. Russell's writing; Fremont's signature." 


146. Fremont to Jacob R. Snyder 

[Los Angeles] 
[22 Feb. 1847] 

to all to whom these presents shall come 


Know ye, that I, J. C. Fremont, Governor of California, in virtue 
and by the authority of powers vested in me as such, and in the con- 
sideration of the entire and perfect confidence that I repose in the 
capacity, integrity and favorable disposition cherished by Jacob R. 
Snyder towards the public service, do hereby constitute, ordain, and 
appoint him, superintendent of the Mission of San Gabriel with 
authority and power to take full and entire control of said Mission 
of San Gabriel, to employ labour to make all needfull repairs and to 
do aught else with said Mission, as in his judgement and discretion 
may conduce, by such expenditure and labour to the public interest. 

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my name, and have 
caused the seal of the Territory of California to be afhxed at the 
Ciudad de Los Angeles the Capitol of California this Twenty second 
day of February A. D. Eighteen hundred and forty seven. 

Attest J. C. Fremont 

Wm. H. Russell Governor of California 

Sec'y of State [^ca/] 

Facsimile, printed in the Quarterly of the Society of CaHfornia Pioneers, 8 


147. W. Branford Shubrick to Fremont 

U. S. Ship Independence 
Monterey, February 23rd 1847 

Since my letter to you of the 22nd^ Passed Midshipman McLane 
of the Navy has arrived at this place under some instructions from 
you," and as I understand your courier has not yet left, I avail myself 
of him to send this. 

Mr. McLane informs me that there are several officers of the 
Navy doing duty with the volunteers under your command. I desire 
that all such be immediately returned to the Squadron, unless Gen- 
eral Kearny who, I am instructed, is the Commanding Military 
Officer in California, and invested by the President with the adminis- 
trative functions of Government over the people and Territory, 
should wish their services on land. I am. Sir, Very Respectfully Your 
Obdt. Servt.^ 

(Signed) W. Branford Shubrick 
Commander in Chief of the Naval Force 

Lieutenant Colonel J. C. Fremont 

U. S. Army 

Pueblo de Los Angeles. 

Copy of enclosure 10 in Kearny to R. Jones, 11 Sept. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-217 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

1. Not found, although a special search was made of the pertinent series 
of naval records. Perhaps Shubrick refers to his letter of 25 Jan. 1847, not 

2. Not only Louis McLane but, more important, Lieut. J. M. Watson had 
arrived in Monterey on or before 20 Feb. with significant dispatches from 
Washington, including one from the Secretary of the Navy dated 5 Nov. 
1846 and addressed to Stockton, but given in his absence to Shubrick. It 
reads: "The president has deemed it best for the public interests to invest the 
military officer commanding with the direction of the operations on land, 
and with the administrative functions of government over the people and 
territory occupied by us. You will relinquish to Colonel Mason or to General 
Kearney, if the latter shall arrive before you have done so, the entire control 
over these matters and turn over to him all papers necessary to the per- 
formance of his duties" (ct. martial, Sl-53). It would be interesting to 
know if this is JCF's first information that Kearny was to have supreme 
command in the territory, or if Shubrick's letter of 22 Feb. had stated clearly 
the nature of these instructions from Washington. If not, this is a very 
cursory and obscure way of informing JCF that a bearer of new instructions 


had arrived in California and that JCF would be foolish to persist in his 
defiance of Kearny. True, these instructions were sent by the Navy Depart- 
ment before the receipt of Stockton's letters of the previous August and 
September with news of the conquest of California and his plans for the 
establishment of a civil government. 

Before the naval courier reached Shubrick in Monterey, Kearny had re- 
ceived from Col. Richard B. Mason on 13 Feb. in San Francisco a copy of the 
Navy Department's dispatch plus one from Winfield Scott, general-in-chief 
of the Army. Dated 3 Nov. 1846, Scott's dispatch instructed Kearny to 
muster the California Volunteers, organized by Stockton, into the Army and 
reiterated that the senior officer of the land forces was to be the governor of 
the province (ct. martial, 48-50). But Kearny did not inform JCF of the 
new orders. Later, when he was cross-examined in Washington about his 
failure to do so, he stated that he was not in the habit of communicating to 
his juniors the instructions he received unless required to do so (ct. martial, 
102). Sometime in March Stockton received from Commodore Biddle the 
instructions of 5 Nov. 1846 from the Navy Department, but he did not 
furnish JCF with a copy of these instructions (ct. martial, 200). 

Although Kearny and Stockton never officially communicated the new in- 
structions to JCF, he must have known their nature after receiving this 23 
Feb. 1847 letter from Shubrick, as well as newspaper reports of new instruc- 
tions, sometime in early March. On 5 March Gillespie wrote Larkin, "Fre- 
mont received some [newspapers] by the courier who came down lately but 
he has not favored our eyes with a sight of them" (larkin, 6:37-38). The 
California Star of Yerba Buena, 20 Feb., reported that Kearny had received 
new instructions and additional powers from Washington. Perhaps this 
issue of the Star had not reached JCF in Los Angeles when Gillespie wrote — 
or perhaps it had, and this was why JCF was keeping the papers from his 
colleagues. Gillespie noted that "everything is very quiet & has the appear- 
ance of remaining so; indeed, the policy adopted by Fremont, should secure 
it. . . ." He also chided Larkin: "You people in Monterey, I fear, think too 
much of the rising sun [i.e., Kearny]. Take care it may be eclipsed, and you 
will be all lost in the fog!" 

It seems almost certain, then, that JCF did know by early March of the 
new instructions to the Navy and Army, but he also believed that even later 
instructions were on the way to California. He doubted very much that 
President Polk, once he was informed of the conquest of California by 
Stockton and JCF, would refuse to approve Stockton's appointing him as 
governor. On 1 March Larkin wrote W. D. M. Howard, "He [JCF] yet 
expects by Secretary Norris the approval of appointment as Governor by Mr. 
Polk" (larkin, 6:32-33). And Gillespie, piqued over Shubrick's and Kearny's 
refusal to honor the financial commitments of officers of the California Bat- 
talion, wrote Larkin, "The movements at your place [Monterey] certainly 
looked very much like the desertion of those in the country, whom you know 
have done the work. . . . Shubrick had nothing to do with the acts of 
Commo. Stockton previous to his arrival, and Cien'l. Kearney had less, until 
he received the last instructions; and then courtesy would have dictated a 
different procedure, had he not been actuated by personal motives, and a 
feeling of importance. However, let it all go for what it is worth. The sequel 
will show whether the Government will sustain such a course as has been 
pursued against the officers, sent to this country before those last comers were 
thought of. The Army Gents may think they have caught the hare, but I 

doubt much if they will hold it" (Gillespie to Larkin, "Angeles," 1 April 
1847, LARKIN, 6:82-83). 

3. Richard B. Mason wrote Henry S. Turner that JCF had said he paid no 
attention to this communication of Shubrick's in regard to the naval officers 
on duty with the California Battalion, "and did not communicate it to the 
officers concerned, because it did not reach him through Com. Stockton, by 
whose orders the officers were put on duty with the Battalion and on account 
of the manner and want of courtesy on the part of Commodore Shubrick in 
communications with him on the subject" (Mason to Turner, 10 April 1847, 
enclosure D in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847, DNA-94, LR, K-202 1847, 
f/w K-209 1846). 

148. Stephen Watts Kearny to Fremont 

Head Qrs. 10th Military Department 
Monterey (U.C.) March 1st. 1847 

By Dept. Orders No. 2 of this date, (which will be handed to you 
by Capt. Turner 1st Dragoons A.A.A. GenI for my Command) you 
will see that certain duties are there required of you as Commander 
of the Battalion of California Volunteers.^ 

In addition to the duties above referred to, I have now to direct 
that you will bring with you, & with as little delay as possible all the 
Archives & Public Documents & Papers which may be subject to 
your Control & which appertain to the Government of California, 
that I may receive them from your hands at this Place, the Capitol 
of the Territory. 

I have directions from the Genl. in chief, not to detain you in this 
Country against your wishes, a moment longer than the necessities 
of the service may require & you will be at liberty to leave here, 
after you have complied with these instructions & those in the 
"Orders" referred to. Very Respectfully Your Obdt. Servt. 

(Signed) S. W. Kearny 
Brig. Genl. & Governor of California 



Lt. Col. J. C. Fremont 

Regt. of Mounted Riflemen 

Commdg. Battn. of Califa. Vols. 

Ciudad de los Angeles 

Copy enclosed in Kearny to R. Jones, 15 March 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-166 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Endorsed. Also in bigelow, 200-201. This 
letter to JCF and departmental orders no. 2 were carried to Los Angeles by 
Capt. Henry S. Turner after Kearny's return to Monterey from a reconnais- 
sance of the Bay of San Francisco. There, as noted in Doc. No. 147, n. 2, 
Kearny had received instructions from Washington dated 3 and 5 Nov. 
1846 which, without question, gave him supreme authority in California. 
Turner left Monterey on 2 March and delivered orders no. 2 to JCF in Los 
Angeles on 11 March (ct. martial, 148). The following day he had an inter- 
view with JCF, who, he said, informed him that he would proceed the next 
day to the Mission San Gabriel to execute the order (ct. martial, 148). JCF 
apparently did not go personally but sent the adjutant of the battalion, Wil- 
liam N. Loker, who was unsuccessful in mustering members of the California 
Battalion into service (ct. martial, 134). 

To his wife, Julia, Turner had already written that Kearny had not dis- 
played "his usual firmness and decision of character in dealing with Fremont" 
and attributed this temporizing course to fear of offending Benton. "Were I 
to behave as Fremont has done he would cause me to be put in irons, and 
would pursue me with a bitterness that would drive me to desperation. Yet 
this man is permitted to escape without a murmur. He says that he will 
prefer charges against Fremont and cause him to be tried, but I do not believe 
it. I think he will do nothing calculated to give displeasure to Col. Benton" 
(Turner to Julia Turner, 22 Feb. 1847, turner, 154-59). 

1. See Doc. No. 149. 

149. 10th Military Department Orders No. 2 

Hd. Qrs. 10th Military Dept. 
Monterey, March 1, 1847 
Orders No. 2 

I With a view to regular payment, it is necessary that the Bat- 
talion of California Volunteers, now, under the command of Lt. Col. 
Fremont, of the Army and Stationed at the Ciudad de los Angeles, 
if not originally mustered under the law of May 13 and the supple- 
mental law of June 18, 1846, should now be mustered into service 
under those laws. This muster will be made at once by Lt. Col. Fre- 
mont. Should any men of that Battalion be unwilling to continue in 
service under the above named laws, they will be conducted by Lt. 


Col. Fremont to Yerba Buena via Monterey, and be there discharged. 

II Lt. Gillespie of the Marines now serving with the Battalion of 
California Volunteers is relieved from that duty, he will repair to 
Washington City, and will report himself to the Commanding of- 
ficer of his Corps. 

III Lieut. Col. P. S. Cooke^ now in Command of the Mormon 
Battalion, is entrusted with the supervision of the Southern Mil. 
District, for the protection and defence of which he will make the 
necessary provision, posting his command (to consist of Company 
C. 1st Dragoons, the Mormon Battalion, and the California Volun- 
teers) at such places, as he may deem most eligible. 

IV Lieutenant Colonel Cooke will designate an officer to receive 
all public property which the senior naval officer, at San Diego, may 
be caused to be turned over. 

V Major Swords,^ quartermaster, and Paymaster Cloud,^ will 
repair to head-quarters, at Monterey, and report themselves to the 
general commanding. 

By order of Brig. Genl. S. W. Kearny. 

H. S. Turner 
Capt. A.A.A. Genl. 

Copied for Adj. Genl., Lt. Col. Fremont & Cooke [and] of Par. 2 
for Com. of Marine Corps at Washington. 

DS ('DNA-393, Order Book, 10th Military District, vol. 8, Feb.-Dec. 1847). 

1. Virginian Philip St. Ceorge Cooke (1809-95), one of the youngest men 
ever to graduate from West Point, would devote forty-six years of his life to 
the Army. He held a captaincy in the 1st U.S. Dragoons (as well as a com- 
mission, dating from 16 Feb. 1847, as a major in the 2nd Dragoons), but he 
had really come to California as a lieutenant colonel in command of the 
Mormon Battalion. The battalion arrived in San Diego on 29 Jan. 1847, and 
Kearny sent it to the Mission San Luis Rey, fifty-three miles from San Diego, 
on the road to Los Angeles. Cooke's journal of his epic and arduous overland 
march was published by the government in 1849 (Senate Doc. 2, 31st Cong., 
spec, sess., Serial 547) and was republished by the author in 1878 (with 
additions) under the title The Conquest of New Mexico and California. But 
Cooke's greatest contribution to military history was a manual, the first writ- 
ten on cavalry field tactics. For a biography of Cooke, see young. For Kearny's 
letter to Cooke, which Turner carried south, see ct. martial, 140-41. 

2. Maj. Thomas B. Swords (ca. 1807-86) was chief quartermaster of the 
Army of the West, and returned east with Kearny in the summer of 1847. 
He was breveted brigadier general and major general for his services in the 
Quartermaster Department during the Civil War. 

3. Paymaster Jeremiah H. Cloud had come to California with the Mormon 
Battalion. He died at Sutter's Fort on 4 Aug. 1847 after a fall from a horse. 


ISO. Shubrick-Kcarny Circular 

[1 March 1847] 


That the President of the Lhiitcd States, desirous to ijive and secure 
to the People of California a share of the go«-xi government and 
happv civil organization enjoved bv the People of the United States, 
and to protect them at the same time, from the attacks of foreign 
foes, and from internal commotions, — has invested the undersigned 
with separate and distinct powers, civil and militarv; a cordial co- 
operation in the exercise of which, it is hoped and believed will have 
the happv results desired. 

To the Commander-in-Chief of the Naval Fonres, the President 
has assigned the regulation of the import trade, — the conditions on 
which vessels of all nations, our own as well as forei^ri, mav be ad- 
mitted into the ports of the Territorv, and the establishment of all 
Port Rcijulations. 

To the Commandinvr MUitarv Officer, the President has assiiUKxi 
the direction of the operations on land, at\d has invcstevi him with 
administrative functions of government over the People and IVrri 
torv tKXupied by the forces of the Ihiitcvl States. 

Done at Montfrky, Capital of California, this Hrst dav of March, 
A. D. 1847. 

\V. Bkanforp Shi HRicK. 

Commander in Chief of the Naval Forces 

S. W. Kkaknv, Hriij. Cien'l. V. S. A. and Covcrnor of California 

Printed cupv Uumd m Kcarnv to K. loucs, l^^ NUuvh IS47 (,nNA'J4. l.K. 
K Ibb 1847. t/w K JO^ 1846). A copy was sent south with Turner to ICF 
(cT. MARTIAL, 102). The circuUiT appeared in the i\ilifomiu Star on 6 Marvh 
1847 and For several suecessive weeks. Ke.uiw .ind Shuhiiek scUvtevl Moitterev 
as the teni[>otarv eafntal. 

151. Stephen Watts Kearny's Proclamation 

[1 March 1847] 


The President of the United States having instructed the under- 
signed to take charge of the civil government of California, he enters 
upon his duties w^ith an ardent desire to promote as far as he is able, 
the interests of the country and the welfare of its inhabitants. 

The undersigned has instructions from the President to respect 
and protect the religious institutions of California, and to see that the 
religious rights of the People are in the amplest manner preserved 
to them, the constitution of the United States allowing every man to 
worship his Creator in such a manner as his own conscience may 
dictate to him. 

The undersigned is also instructed to protect the persons and prop- 
erty of the quiet and peaceable inhabitants of the country against all 
or any of their enemies, whether from abroad or at home; and when 
he now assures the Californians that it will be his duty and his plea- 
sure to comply with those instructions, he calls upon them all to 
exert themselves in preserving order and tranquility, in promoting 
harmony and concord, and in maintaining the authority and the 
efficiency of the laws. 

It is the wish and design of the United States to provide for Cali- 
fornia with the least possible delay, a free Government similar to 
those in her other Territories, and the people will soon be called 
upon to exercise their rights as freemen in electing their own Repre- 
sentatives, to make such laws as may be deemed best for their interest 
and welfare. But until this can be done, the laws now in existence 
and not in conflict with the constitution of the U. States, will be con- 
tinued until changed by competent authority; and those persons 
who hold office, will continue in the same for the present, provided 
they swear to support the constitution and to faithfully perform their 

The undersigned hereby absolves all the inhabitants of California 
from any further allegiance to the Republic of Mexico, and will con- 
sider them as citizens of the United States; those who remain quiet 
and peaceable will be respected in their rights and protected in 


them ; should any take up arms against, or oppose the Government of 
the Territory, or instigate others to do so, they will be considered 
as enemies and treated accordingly. 

When Mexico forced a war upon the United States, time did not 
permit the latter to invite the Californians as friends to join her stan- 
dard, but compelled her to take possession of the country to prevent 
any European Powers from seizing upon it, and in doing so, some 
excesses and unauthorized acts were no doubt committed by persons 
employed in the service of the United States, by which a few of the 
inhabitants have met with a loss of property; such losses will be duly 
investigated, and those entitled to remuneration will receive it. 

California has for many years suffered greatly from domestic trou- 
bles; civil wars have been the poisoned fountains which have sent 
forth trouble and pestilence over her beautiful land. Now these 
fountains are dried up; the Star Spangled Banner floats over Cali- 
fornia, and as long as the sun continues to shine upon her, so long 
will it float there, over the natives of the land, as well as others who 
have found a home in her bosom; and under it, agriculture must 
improve and the arts and sciences flourish, as seed in a rich and 
fertile soil. 

The Americans and Californians are now but one People; let us 
cherish one wish, one hope, and let that be for the peace and quiet of 
our country. Let us as a Band of Brothers unite and emulate each 
other in our exertions to benefit and improve this our beautiful, and 
which soon must be our happy and prosperous home. 

Done at Monterey, Capital of California, this first day of March, 
A. D. 1847, and in the 71st year of Independence of the United States. 

S. W. Kearny, Brig. Gen. 
U. S. A. and Governor of California 

Printed copy, in English and Spanish, enclosed in Kearny to R. Jones, 15 
March 1847 (DNA-94, LR, K-166 1847, f/w K-209 1846). The proclamation 
was actually issued on 4 March, after the departure of Turner for the south, 
but was back-dated to 1 March. The California Star, 20 March 1847 (and for 
many weeks thereafter), printed it in English and Spanish. 

1. Article 3 of the Articles of Capitulation had guaranteed that no Cali- 
fornian or Mexican citizen should be compelled to take the oath of allegiance, 
but this provision made an oath mandatory for officeholders. 


152. Fremont to Pierson B. Reading 

[2 March 1847] 

Know all men by these Presents, that I, J. C. Fremont, Governor of 
the Territory of California, and in virtue thereof legal representative 
of the United States of North America, clothed with general and ex- 
tensive powers, in consideration of the necessity of having an agent 
to represent this integral part of the United States of North America 
in foreign parts as well as the entire confidence that I feel and repose 
in the favorable disposition, integrity, capacity and business habits of 
Major Pearson [Pierson] B. Reading, United States Paymaster for 
the United States troops in California, do surely constitute, ordain 
and appoint him my true and special agent and attorney to proceed 
with blank bonds signed by myself in my fiduciary character and 
countersigned by William H. Russell, Secretary of State, to Mazat- 
lan, Lima, or any other place that he may elect to negotiate certain 
loans for the use and benefit of the United States. It is the intention 
of this instrument or letter of attorney to invest my said agent 
Major Pearson B. Reading with power fully to regulate the rates of 
interest, fill up the dates which are left blank in the bonds and do 
everything necessary to be done towards accomplishing the loans for 
the amounts respectively set forth in the bonds. I further more 
authorize my said agent to charter or instruct the charter of the 
barque Guipuzcoana and to employ the services of such agent or 
agents as my aforesaid agent may deem necessary to enable him to 
effect the loans or object of his mission, hereby pledging and binding 
myself in my fiduciary character and as such the faith and honor of 
the Government of the United States of North America to sanction, 
ratify and confirm each and every one of his said acts. In faith 
whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the 
Territory of California to be affixed this second day of March A. D. 
1847, at the Ciudad de los Angeles, Capital of California. 

J, C. Fremont, 
Governor of California 

Wm. H. Russell 
Secretary of State 

LS, RC (C). 


153. Contract for Purchase of Alcatraz Island 

[Los Angeles] 
[2 March 1847] 

In consideration of Francis Temple having conveyed to the United 
States of North America a certain Island commonly called White or 
Bird [Alcatraz] Island situated near the mouth of San Francisco 
Bay, I, J. C. Fremont Governor of California, and in virtue of my 
office as aforesaid hereby oblige and bind myself as the legal repre- 
sentative of the United States and my successor in office to pay the 
said Francis Temple, his heirs or assigns the sum of five thousand 
dollars (5000) to be paid at as early a day as possible after the receipt 
of funds from the United States/ 

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and have caused 
the seal of the territory of California to be affixed at the Ciudad de 
Los Angeles the capital of California this 2 day of March A.D. 1847. 

(Signed) J. C. Fremont 
Gov. of California 

Wm. H. Russell 
Secty of State 

I hereby certify the above to be a true copy of the original docu- 
ment now in the hands of Mr. Temple a resident of this place. 

J. D. Stevenson 
Col. 7 Regt. 
Pueblo de los Angeles 
13 May 1847 

I certify that on the 2d day of March 1847 I delivered to Gov. J. C. 
Fremont the Title to the above mentioned Island. 

Ciudad de los Angeles May 13th 1847 

Francis Temple 

Enclosure 16 in Kearny to R. Jones, 11 Sept. 1847 (DNA-94. LR, K-217 
1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

1. Many years later JBF wrote an account of the circumstances surrounding 
the purchase, probably in an attempt to justify her husband's actions. His 
attention had first been called to the military importance of the island by 
reading in Vancouver's Voyages that "a true course for a vessel entering the 
harbor from seaward, was to bring Fort Point into a line with Alcatraz 


Island." On hearing that the French consul wished to acquire it, JCF made 
overtures on behalf of the United States to the owner, Temple, who had ap- 
parently acquired it from William Workman. Workman in turn had received 
it "in the regular and usual form, under a special decree of the Mexican 
Government by Don Pio Pico." Temple, fearful that the United States might 
not pay, refused to sign the contract until JCF executed his personal bond. 
The United States did, indeed, decline to recognize the purchase, and 
eventually JCF paid through Simon Stevens of New York the $5,000 plus 
interest to the holder of the bond, and thus claimed to be the owner of the 
island. However, in 1858 the U.S. government forcibly took possession, and 
JCF's 1859 legal action to eject the officer in charge of fortifying the island 
could not be prosecuted without the consent of Congress, which was refused 
("Great Events during the Life of Major General John C. Fremont," pp. 29- 
31, CU-B; California Claims, Senate Report 75, p. 16, 30th Cong., 1st sess.. 
Serial 512). 

154. Fremont to Eulogio de Cells, 3 March 1847 

[See Mason to Jones, 9 Oct. 1847, Doc. No. 231.] 

155. Fremont to Archibald H. Gillespie 

Government House 
5th March 1847 

Circumstances having caused me to postpone my intention of 
leaving the Capital at present you will therefore consider all the or- 
ders predicated on that idea recalled by reason of their inapplicability, 
and you w^ill proceed in the exercise of your usual and ordinary 
duties, as if no such special orders had been issued. Very respectfully 
Your obt. servt. 

J. C. Fremont 
Governor of California 

Majr. A. H. Gillespie 
California Battn. 
U. S. Forces 


LS, RC (CLU — Gillespie Papers). Addressed. Endorsed: "Countermand 
of order March 3, 1847." The body of the letter is in Russell's hand, the 
signature is JCF's. The 3 March 1847 order has not been found. 

156. Fremont's Circular 

[Los Angeles] 
[9 March 1847] 

to all to whom these presents shall come 


Know ye that I J. C. Fremont Governor of California, and in vir- 
tue thereof the legal representative of all the various interests of the 
United States on the coast of said Territory of California, and in 
pursuance of a custom of precedent established by my predecessor in 
office Governor R. F. Stockton, do by these presents give full au- 
thority and permission to the Brig Primavera, William Stenner^ 
Master to trade on any portion of the coast of California on terms, 
and with the same immunities as merchant vessels of the United 

Said Brig Primavera" is sailing under Mexican colours, but is 
owned by worthy, and good citizens residents of California. In testi- 
mony whereof I have hereunto set my hand, and have caused the 
seal of California to be affixed at the Ciudad de los Angeles the 
Capitol of California this 9th day of March A. D. 1847. 

J. C. Fremont 
Governor of California 

Wm. H. Russell 
Sec. of State 

Copy (DNA-393, 10th Military Department, Fremont Circular). Endorsed. 

1. This may have been the same William Stenner, a native of Massachusetts, 
who had come to California in 1831 as a mate aboard the Ayacucho. For two 
years he had been in charge of the hide houses at San Diego (pioneer 

2. The Primavera was a Mexican brig captured the previous August by the 
Cyane while sailing from San Diego to San Pedro. 


157. Philip St. George Cooke to Fremont 

Hd. Qrs. South. Mil. Dist. 
San Luis Rey, 14 March 1847 

I request you to send me information of the number of men of the 
BattaHon of California Volunteers that have been mustered into ser- 
vice agreeably to 10th Mil. Dept. Order No. 2; and w^hat protection 
will be afforded to the Artillery and Ordnance stores at San Gabriel. 

If possibly, none of the Battalion have consented to be regularly 
mustered and continued in service, I suggest the necessity of delaying 
for a few days, until they shall be relieved, the commencement of 
their march for Yerba Buena. The importance of speedy informa- 
tion on these points will be evident. Very respectfully Yr. obt. servant, 

(Signed) P. St. Geo. Cooke 
Lt. Col. Comdg. 
To Lt. Col. J. C. Fremont 

or Officer comdg. the Battn. California Volunteers, 
Ciudad de los Angeles. 

Copy of enclosure H in Kearny to R. Jones. 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-202 1847, f/w K-209 1846). After conferring with JCF in Los Angeles, 
Turner went on to the Mission San Luis Rey with the order placing Cooke in 
command of the southern half of California (cooke, 284). Cooke then sent 
this letter of inquiry by a courier who reached JCF's headquarters in Los 
Angeles on 16 March (see Doc. No. 160). 

158. Fremont to Richard Owens 

Ciudad de los Angeles 
15th March 1847 

In the performance of a portion of my official duties, it become 
necessary that I should visit in person on the Northern District of 
the Territory, where I shall probably be detained some 15 or 20 
days, and the better to possess you of my views in my absence, and 


to render your authority in the meantime undoubted, I have con- 
sidered it proper to issue the following orders. 

1st. You will continue with the entire Battalion at San Gabriel, 
observing order, vigilance, and exercising as much discipline as in 
your discretion can be prudently enforced. 

2d. You will make no war whatever from San Gabriel in my ab- 
sence unless to repel an actual invasion, or obey the order of any offi- 
cer that does not emanate from me. 

3d. You will take the best possible care of the public arms, and 
munitions belonging to the Command, and turn them over to no 
Corps without my special order. 

4th. The general police of the garrison and strict regard to the 
public interest will of course as Comdt. ad. interim, constantly en- 
gage your best efforts. Very Respectfully Your Obdt. Servt. 

(Signed) J. C. Fremont 
Lieut. Col. U. S. Army 
Comdt. of California Battalion 

Capt. Richard Owens 
Actg Comdt. of Cal. Battalion. 

Copy of enclosure F. no. 1, in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, 
LR, K-202 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Acting on these orders, Owens refused to 
deliver up the ordnance to Cooke, who rode to the Mission San Gabriel 
on 24 March in an effort to persuade him to do so or to permit Midshipman 
John K. Wilson, acting as captain of artillery and ordnance in the California 
Battalion, to comply with Cooke's pointed order to turn over the ordnance 
and ordnance stores to a subordinate. These refusals caused Cooke to write 
on 25 March to Capt. Henry S. Turner in Monterey, "My God! to think of 
a howitzer brought over the deserts with so much faithful labour by the 
Dragoons: the howitzer with which they have four times fought the enemy, 
& brought here to the rescue of Lt. Col. Fremont & his volunteers to be 
refused to them by this Lt. Col. Fremont, and in defiance of the orders of 
his (leneral: — I denounce this treason, or this mutiny which jeopardizes the 
safety of the Country, and defies me in my legal command and duties! by 
men, too, who report and say they believe that the enemy approaches from 
without & are about to rise in arms around us" (see copy F in Kearny to 
Jones, 3 May 1847, same file). 


159. Israel Brockman to Fremont 

City of Angels 
March 15th. 1847 
To your excellency Col. J. C. Fremont 

I am under the necessity of applying to you for my immediate 
discharge from the service. It is the first time I have asked it and I 
trust you will grant it for the reason Mr. Stanley, deceased/ and my- 
self have or own a waggon and team in co-partnership beside other 
property which Mr. Craig, Stanley's Administrator, cannot dispose 
of without my consent. As Mr. Craig is going to the States the ensu- 
ing season and has Stanley's debts to collect and take them home to 
his family I think it very necessary that I should immediately repair 
to the upper country to see to the disposal of Mr. Stanley's property 
which cannot be done otherwise.^ I hope my anxiety will be my ex- 
cuse. Your most obent., 

Israel Brockman 

ALS, RC (Society of California Pioneers — Jacob Rink Snyder Collection). 
Addressed, "To his excellency Lieut. Col. J. C. Fremont present Guipuscuana 
[Joveti Guipuzcoana]." The outside of the letter bears the names of Israel 
Brockman, G. S. Carter, and D. Manuel Requena. 

Israel Brockman and the two men mentioned in the body of the letter, 
John Craig and Larkin Stanley, were three of an eight-man party which 
traveled to California in 1846. All joined Company D of the California Bat- 
talion, with Brockman becoming a sergeant. G. S. Carter was also a sergeant 
in Company D. Requena (ca. 1804-76) was a native of Yucatan. He had 
come to California in 1835 to trade and remained in Los Angeles until his 
death, except for a brief time when he retired across the Mexican frontier 
for political reasons. He was a citizen of excellent standing and much local 
influence (pioneer register). 

1. Larkin Stanley died on 12 Dec. 1846 when the California Battalion was 
nearing Mission San Luis Obispo. His death is described by bryant, 13 
Dec. 1846, and by Craig in a 4 Oct. 1847 letter to a friend in morgan, 

2. Craig and his party left Sutter's on 22 May 1847 (new Helvetia diary). 


160. William H. Russell to Philip St. George Cooke 


16th March 1847 

I am instructed by Govr. Fremont to acknowledge a few moments 
since the receipt of your communication of the 14th Inst, and to say 
in reply that the Vols, constituting the California Battn, decline 
without an individual exception to be mustered into the U. S. service 
conformable to order No. 2 of the 10th Mil. Dept. referred to by 

The Govr. considers it unsafe at this time, when rumor is rife with 
a threatened insurrection to discharge the Battn. and will decline do- 
ing so, and whilst they remain in service, he regards this force quite 
sufficient for the protection of the artillery and ordnance stores at the 
mission of San Gabriel. I am with considerations of respect Your 
obt. servt. 

Wm. H. Russell 
Sec of State 

P. St. Geo. Cooke 
Lieut Col. Comdg. 
Mission San Luis Rey 

ALS, RC, enclosure 8 in Kearny to R. Jones, 11 Sept. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-217 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Endorsed: "Reed, at 2 P.M. 17 March 1847." 
This 16 March letter of Russell's arrived at the Mission San Luis Rey while 
Turner was still there. After Cooke showed him the letter, Turner concluded 
that JCF did not really intend to execute Kearny's orders and set out imme- 
diately for Monterey to inform the general of that fact. Although he stopped 
at Los Angeles, he did not call upon JCF, and, much to his surprise, the 
explorer made his appearance in Monterey on 25 March, the day after Turner 
arrived (enclosure 7, same file; Henry S. Turner to Julia Turner, 31 March 
1847, TURNER, 161-62). 

1. William N. Loker, who had become JCF's adjutant after Talbot's de- 
parture for Washington on 25 Feb. with dispatches, had been assigned the 
task of going to Mission San Gabriel to determine if any members of the 
California Battalion wished to be mustered into U.S. service — as outlined by 
orders no. 2 of the 10th Military Department. None desired to make the 
change, but Cooke doubted "that steps were taken to allow the men of that 
battalion to decide knowingly." He looked upon them generally as "good 
Citizens; but cruelly and studiously misguided and deceived" (Cooke to 
Turner, 25 March 1847, enclosure F in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847, 
DNA-94, LR, K-202 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 


161. Thomas Oliver Larkin to Fremont 

Monterey March 16, 1847 
Lieut. Col. }. C. Fremont 

I wrote to you by Juan Flaco^ and by Mr. Knight, to which I have 
no answer to this date. 

I have taken the deed from Alvarado for the ten or eleven leagues 
of land." The drafts sent to Oahu allowing the discount will cover 
the sale. 

Mr. Green^ is obliged to go South to see Commodore Stockton, 
and yourself to settle his account. He has borrowed at two per cent, 
per month over six thousand dollars in cash. He can go no farther 
in his business until he can recover some part of his claims. You will 
oblige us both by assisting him. Hoping to see you soon I do not 
write much at present. I regret exceedingly that former Government 
arrangements cannot be carried out.^ I hear very favourable reports 
of your gaining popularity among the Californians.^ You have acted 
as Governor of California, and you will so be known by the United 
States at large, and although the time was short, it will be of future 
service to you in the public opinion. More of these affairs when we 
meet. I am Your Obdt. Servant. 

(Signed) Thomas O. Larkin 

Printed in larkin, 6:59. 

1. Popularly known as Juan Flaco, John Brown (ca. 1800-1859), a Swedish 
emigrant to California in 1828, often served as a courier to Los Angeles, 
Monterey, and San Diego. He made a fast and dramatic ride from Los 
Angeles to San Francisco in Sept. 1846 with Gillespie's urgent appeal for 
aid, and he probably carried one of Kearny's letters to JCF before the latter's 
arrival in Los Angeles. From 1853 until his death he was employed as a 
vaquero and caretaker on the ranch of Edward W. Howison, sixty miles 
northeast of Stockton (dofflemyer). 

2. A reference to Larkin's purchase of Las Mariposas for JCF from 
Alvarado for $3,000, 10 Feb. 1847. 

3. Paul Geddes (1810-89), a defaulting bank clerk in Pennsylvania, built 
a new career in California under the name Talbot H. Green. In the 1851 
campaign for the mayoralty of San Francisco, he was recognized and de- 
nounced. In 1846 and 1847, acting as Larkin's agent, he furnished a large 
portion of the supplies purchased by the California Battalion and the naval 
forces at Monterey. From 17 Sept. 1846 to Oct. 1847 he served, by appoint- 
ment from Capt. William Mervine, as collector of the port of Monterey. For 
an article on Green, see hussey [2], 

4. A reference to the failure of the council to meet on 1 March, and an 
implication that all the arrangements made by Stockton for the governance 
of the territory had ceased, including JCF's term as governor. 

5. JCF had indeed ingratiated himself with the native Californians. He 
wore a sombrero and gave gala balls. Marius Duvall, an assistant naval 
surgeon, reported a rumor that some Californians had offered to join JCF 
and fight General Kearny (duvall, 93). 

162. Thomas Oliver Larkin to Fremont 

Monterey March 16, 1847 
Col. J. C. Fremont 

I think it would save you and the paymaster some trouble, by giv- 
ing to Mr. Green a draft of large amount, and he undertake to pay 
off the Riflemen, and others, when in funds. Mr. Green, should he 
meet you, will offer some plan of arrangement to this effect. I re- 
main, Yours Sincerely, 

(Signed) Thomas O. Larkin 

Printed in larkin, 6:59. 

163. Citizens of Los Angeles to Fremont 

[Los Angeles] 
[18 March 1847] 
Mr. Juan C. Fremont, General Commander and 
Governor of California 

The undersigned, with the knowledge that you are ready to depart 
for Monterrey and convinced that this step is not only not advisable 
but also highly jeopardizes the security of the populations in the 
southern part of the country, we therefore can do no less than to beg 
of you to desist for now from your departure for the following rea- 

The country has just emerged from a dangerous crisis and resents 


the events, therefore it is no wonder that ahhough secret, the resent- 
ments that caused the previous subversions still last. 

The most important aspect to which you must direct your political 
effort is toward these populations; they have suffered infinite troubles 
and they were [in] the original theater [of events] and the evils of 
war still are alive and if to so grave a circumstance he turns his back, 
the one who with tact has known how to calm the worries and find 
the ways toward a national peace, things may arrive at a pitiful situa- 
tion for which you are responsible. 

It is not our purpose to question the reasons found by the "jefes" 
who are in Monterrey for issuing with such latitude the decree signed 
the first of the current March, which right we reserve for ourselves; 
but we want to point out that the effect of your departure from this 
city might have as a result consequences that are not easy to see from 
the beaches of Monterrey. 

You have managed to gain the confidence of all this neighbor- 
hood, they are happy with your vigilance and enthusiasm to keep 
good order, and for all these reasons it is important in our circum- 
stances to make use of the occasion to amalgamate the good will in 
order to avoid public calamity. 

With sincerity we express our opinions to you and we do not doubt 
that pursuing the happy ending of events, you will take into consid- 
eration our just observations. 

Therefore we ask that you remain in this city and that you consult 
with the appropriate people about the best ways of achieving se- 

Thus we beg of you and we hope to be obliged swearing as to the 
sincerity of the stated matter. 

City of Los Angeles, Capital of California, the 18 of March 1847. 
Signed^ B. D. Wilson, Abel Stearns, Alejandro Bell, Eulogio Celis, 
John Temple, Plenio F. Temple, Luis [Buchet?], John Keys, John 
Atkinson, Franco. [Francisco] Figueroa, Caspar [Osante?], [Pru- 
don?], William Wolfskill, Lemuel Carpenter, Dobson, Jordan Pa- 
checo, L. Rubideau [Robidoux], Thomas A. Sanchez, Jacildo Aguilar, 
Julian Chavez, Jn. Luis Vignes, Juan Bandini, Miguel Pryor. 

AL, translation of a draft in CSmH. 

L The names listed are not holograph signatures. A clean copy of this 
draft, but with no names attached, is also in CSmH. 


164. Fremont to William Workman 

Angeles, March 20th '47 
My dear Sir, 

I had the pleasure to receive a few minutes since a letter from Mr. 
Wilson,^ acquainting me with the regret felt by the people at my 
departure, — and the farther gratification to learn from him that you 
had been kind enough to express your entire approbation of my offi- 
cial conduct and your confidence in the success of the measures 
which I had adopted for the promotion of the public interest. Being 
much pressed today by many engagements I can only delay to thank 
you for your friendly disposition to me and to acquaint you briefly 
with my object in visiting the northern part of the Territory. 

You are aware that in the performance of our official duties, and in 
the exercise of our discretion as the legal representatives of the 
United States in this remote country. Commodore Stockton and my- 
self have contracted extensive liabilities and become responsible for 
many interests which it will be difficult for new authorities to sup- 
port, without some understanding with us. You will also readily 
understand that for our official conduct we are responsible only to 
our government, and that therefore in assuming the control of af- 
fairs here General Kearny should likewise have assumed all our lia- 
bilities. I have therefore decided to go direcdy to Monterey with the 
view of requiring as an act of common justice and propriety, due 
alike to my own character and that of the government I have repre- 
sented, that this assumption of our responsibilities be made by my 
successor. Without this assumption it is impossible that I should 
[make] a formal delivery or transfer of the government, and in such 
an event I shall immediately return to this place in order to concert 
with our friends on such measures as may appear advisable in such 
an emergency. I trust that I shall then receive your aid and counte- 
nance in my efforts to support the integrity of my administration. I 
am with much respect your obedt. servt. 

J. C. Fremont 
Mr. William Workman 
at the Puente 

ALS, RC (CU-B). Addressed; endorsed. A native of England, William 
Workman (1800-1876) had come to California in 1841 from New Mexico, 

where he had long been a trader at Taos. With a fellow emigrant, John 
Rowland, he was granted Rancho La Puente, embracing some 48,000 acres 
in the San Gabriel Valley. Together with Juan Avila and Eulogio de Cells, 
he appeared under a flag of truce at Stockton's camp on 10 Jan., indicating 
that the Angelenos would not resist American reoccupation if promised pro- 
tection and kind treatment. Much later Workman entered the banking busi- 
ness in Los Angeles with his son-in-law, Francis Pliny F. Temple; the failure 
of the enterprise in 1876 ruined the fortunes of both. 

1. See Citizens of Los Angeles to Fremont, 18 March 1847, Doc. No. 163. 

165. William H. Russell to David W. Alexander 


21st March 1847 

You are hereby ordered and permitted in the case of F. Huttman 
[Hiittmann]^ to receive government payment in payment of his cus- 
tom house duties." Very respectfully, 

J. C. Fremont 
Governor of California 

Wm. H. Russell 
Sec of State 


David W. Alexander 

Collector of the Port of San Pedro 

N.B. Mr. Huttman will be entitled to the usual discount by prompt 

W. H. R. 
J. C. Fremont 

ALS, RC, enclosure 11 in Kearny to R. Jones, 11 Sept. 1847 (DNA-94, 
LR, K-217 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Addressed; endorsed. Before becoming 
collector at the port of San Pedro, Irishman David W. Alexander had been 
in trade in New Mexico and Los Angeles. He acquired the ranchos of Tu- 
junga and Providencia and later became Los Angeles County sheriff. 


1. Francis Hiittmann was master and supercargo of the English bark 

2. "Government payment" referred to the use of "due bills" from the pay- 
master and quartermaster of the California Battalion as negotiable. According 
to Kearny, these were bought up by Hiittmann at 25 or 30 percent discount. 
As collector, Alexander had accepted more than $1,700 in this form of paper 
before receiving Kearny's order to honor nothing but "Specie, Treasury Notes 
or Drafts" in payment of customs house duties (Kearny to David W. Alex- 
ander, 26 April 1847, copy enclosed in Kearny to R. Jones, 1 May 1847, 
DNA-94, LR, K-245 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Kearny promised Alexander that 
since he was led into the mistake by the error of others, the amount he had 
received from Hiittmann would be passed to his credit. After Kearny left 
for Washington, Richard B. Mason wrote the Adjutant General requesting 
that JCF be required to refund immediately the $1,700 that the Treasury 
of California had thus lost by his "illegal order" (Mason to R. Jones, 21 June 
1847, DNA-94, LR, M-1113 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

The "due bills" which David W. Alexander had received were invoiced in 
Los Angeles on 13 May 1847 by acting assistant quartermaster Lieut. John W. 
Davidson as follows, a copy of which may be found as enclosure 13 in Kearny 
to R. Jones, 11 Sept. 1847 (DNA-94, LR, K-217 1847): 

One due bill, signed Arch. H. Gillespie, endorsed J. C. Fremont, 

in favor of N. M. Pryor, dated March 27/47 for $ 500.00 

One due bill, signed P. B. Reading, payr. Cal. Bat. in favor of 

Michael Foley, dated March 26/47 for 114.00 

One due bill, signed P. B. Reading, payr. Cal. Bat. in favor of 

John W. [ ] dated Feb. 23/47 for 182.00 

One due bill, signed P. B. Reading, Payr. Cal. Bat. in favor of 

William D. Miller, dated Feby. 23/47 for 256.54 

One due bill signed P. B. Reading, Payr. Cal. Bat. in favor of 

J. R. Snyder, dated March 14/47 for 100.00 

One due bill, signed P. B. Reading, Payr. Cal. Bat. in favor of 

J. P. Long, dated March 8th/47 for 16.37i 

One due bill, signed P. B. Reading, Payr. Cal. Bat. in favor of 

John Hoit. dated Feby 24/47 for 52.27 

One due bill, signed J. R. Snyder QMr. in favor of Henry King, 

dated March 5/47 for 30.00 

One due bill, signed J. R. Snyder Q Mr. in favor of John 

Dobenbliss, dated Feby. 12/47 for 105.00 

One due bill signed J. R. Snyder Q Mr. in favor of Maj. Henry 

King, Comm. Cal. Bat. dated Mar. 26/47 for 248.07 

One due bill, signed J. R. Snyder Q Mr. in favor of Henry 

King, dated March 15/47 for 40.00 

One due bill, signed J. R. Snyder Or. Mr. in favor of John 

Dobenbliss dated Feby. 22/47 for 55.00 

One due bill, signed J. R. Snyder Qr. Mr. in favor of Edwin 

Bryant, dated Jany. 28/47 for 15.00 

One due bill, signed J. R. Snyder Q Mr. in favor of Lieut. 

Hiram Rheusaw, dated March 9/47 for 16.50 

Am't. $1731.4U 


166. Stephen Watts Kearny to Richard B. Mason 

Head Qrs. 10th Mil. Dist. 
Monterey, March 27th 1847 

You will proceed to the Southern Military District of this Terri- 
tory, and inspect the troops in that quarter. You are hereby clothed 
with full authority to give such orders and instructions in that coun- 
try, upon all matters whatever, both civil and military, as in your 
judgement, you may think conducive to the public interest. You 
will then return to this place. I am Sir very respectfully &c.^ 

(Signed) S. W. Kearny 
Brig Genl. &c 
Gov. of Califa. 
Col. R. B. Mason 
1st Dragoons 

Copy of enclosure A in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-202 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Endorsed. On 13 Feb. Richard B. Mason 
(1797-1850), a colonel in the 1st Dragoons, had arrived ill in San Francisco 
on the Erie, a naval storeship commanded by the brother of Henry S. Turner. 
A descendant of a prominent Virginia family, he had brought out the dis- 
patches from Washington which clearly made Kearny military and civil 
governor of California, a position to which Mason was to succeed in June. 

1. Kearny's order to Mason came after an interview with JCF on the 
previous day at the general's headquarters in Monterey. Accompanied by his 
Negro servant, Jacob Dodson, and Jose de Jesus Pico, JCF had ridden from 
Los Angeles to Monterey in three days, ten hours. As the distance was then 
estimated at 400 miles, much of it through mountainous country, the trip was 
regarded as quite a feat. Reputedly, JCF covered 125 miles on each of two days, 
exchanging nine tired mounts for eight fresh ones at Pico's San Luis Obispo 
home. He made the journey, JCF said, to warn Kearny of a possible new in- 
surrection in the south and to determine whether the general would honor the 
fiscal commitments he had made as governor under Stockton's appointment 
(cT. MARTIAL, 422). Kearny testified that he had no recollection of JCF's 
asking that he assume the government's responsibilities. JCF was not pleased 
with the interview nor with the presence of Mason as a witness but, upon 
reflection, finally indicated that he would obey Kearny as his superior officer 
because, as he later stated in his own defense, he believed there was on foot 
a design to depose him "by force and violence" from the governorship of 
California (ct. martial, 106-7, 422-23). During the interview JCF also 
ofTered to resign his commission, which Kearny refused, and on that after- 
noon — 20 March — the explorer began the ride back to Los Angeles. The 


Californian, 27 March 1847, printed some of the details of the epic ride; after 
JCF's court-martial began, the National Intelligencer, 22 Nov. 1847, gave an 
account to its readers, acknowledging that the details provided by Dodson 
had been revised by JCF. 

167. Stephen Watts Kearny to Fremont 

Head Qrs. 10th Mil. Dept. 
Monterey, Califa. March 28. 1847. 

This will be handed to you by Col. Mason, 1st Dragoons, who 
goes to the Southern Military District, clothed by me with full au- 
thority to give such orders and instructions upon all matters both 
civil and military in that section of country, as he may deem proper 
and necessary.^ Any instructions he may give to you, will be con- 
sidered as coming from myself. 

I deem it proper to suggest to you, that should there be at the 
Pueblo any unsettled accounts or demands against the Government, 
incurred by your orders or approval, which you may not have al- 
ready authenticated and completed for the action of the Disbursing 
Officers, that you at once do so, as it may be necessary for you to pro- 
ceed from here to Washington — and should there be any of the Party 
which accompanied you from Missouri still with you and under pay 
from the Topographical Department, you will cause them to come 
to this place, that they may be returned home and discharged and be 
of no further expense to the U. States, unless they prefer being dis- 
charged at once in this country. 

In 12 days after you have embarked the Volunteers at San Pedro, 
I desire to see you in this place. Very respectfully Your Ob. Servt. 

(Signed) S. W. Kearny 
Brig. Genl. & Gov. of Califa. 
Lieut. Col. J. C. Fremont 
Regt. of Mounted Riflemen 
Commdg. Battn. Califa. Vols. 

Copy of enclosure B in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-202 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Endorsed. 


1. Mason sailed on 28 March and reached Los Angeles early in April (see 
Doc. No. 168). 

168. Richard B. Mason to Fremont 

Pueblo de los Angeles 
April 5th. 1847 

I have just arrived at this place and am at the house of Mr. Pryor/ 
where I request the pleasure of seeing you this evening." Very Re- 
spectfully Yr. Obt. Servt. 

(Signed) R. B. Mason 
Col. 1st Dragoons 

Copy of enclosure in R. B. Mason to H. S. Turner, 10 April 1847, which 
is in turn enclosure D in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-202 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Endorsed: "Reed. April 22d. 1847." 

1. The home of Nathaniel M. Pryor, a Kentucky silversmith and clock- 
maker, was south of the Plaza between First and Commercial streets. Pryor 
had come to California in 1828 and operated a vineyard. 

2. The interviews between Mason and JCF were conducted in the presence 
of Cooke. On 6 April Mason and JCF rode out to the Mission San Gabriel 
to see the California Battalion. The troops were paraded, and Mason re- 
ported to Kearny that none were willing to continue in the service under the 
laws of May and June 1846; furthermore, the soldiers claimed a right to be 
discharged at Los Angeles (Mason to Turner, 10 April 1847, DNA-94, K-202 
1847, enclosure D in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

169. Fremont to Richard B. Mason 

Angeles April 7th 1847 


Agreeably to your directions^ I enclose the names of those men be- 
longing to the Cal. Battalion, whose term of service is unexpired. 
You u^ill find appended a note from the Adjutant relative to the 
terms on which they enlisted. The refusal of the Volunteers to reen- 
list or to be mustered into service, rendering it impossible to comply 


with the orders of General Kearny, it would perhaps be advisable 
that I receive from yourself an order relative to my further pro- 

I enclose a memorandum of what I supposed yesterday to be your 
desire in the circumstances, and which according to the terms of the 
contract with me will be the readiest method of closing their con- 
nections with the U. States. Very Respectfully Your Obt. Servt. 


Col. R. B. Mason 

1st Dragoons, U.S. Army 


Benjamin Wrighter Co. A. Feby. 1st . 

Luther Perkms " " " 15 . 

William Belly " B Jany. 28 . 


C.H.Smith " E Feb. 1st . 

L. D. Vincenhaler 

[Lorenzo D. 

D. L. Lytton 

[D. S. Litten] 
John Gard 
Charles Gard 
B. A. Reed' 
Jacob Bonsell 
Hiram Brock 
James Reese [Rees] 
J. W. Johnson 
Jos. O. Donne 


J. D. Spitler 
J. M. Roberts 

(Signed) J. C. Fremont 
Lt. Col. U. S. Army 

Compy. A. Artillery 
V. Weaver Jan 27th 
H. Sanders 

D.H. [S.] 

Carriger " " 

B. E. Kellog " " 

F. Giggsby 

P. Raymond 
W. McDonnel 
J. Greenwood 
A. J. Loper 
D. Harsh 
S. Carriger 
W. Bennett 

G. Carr 


B.[T.?] Painter " 

Wm. Wood 

J. H. Kellogg^^ " 


Agreeably to your Order I enclose a list of names of men belonging 
to the Cal. Battalion whose terms are unexpired. These men were 
reenlisted with the understanding that when their services were no 
longer thought necessary by your self they should be discharged and 
permitted to return to their homes. Very Respectfully Your Obt. 


(Signed) Wm. N. Loker 
Adj. Cal. Batd. 

Lt. Col. Fremont 
Comdg. Cal. Battn. 
Angeles, April 7th 1847 

Will Col. Mason give an order to Lt. Col. Fremont to discharge the 
California Battalion on such terms as his contract with the men calls 
for— that of $25 per month— and also to provide transportation for 
such as may require it, from the place of discharge to the place of 

Copy of enclosure in R. B. Mason to H. S. Turner, 10 April 1847, which 
is a part of enclosure D in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-202 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

1. Probably an allusion to Mason's letter of 6 April 1847, not found, re- 
ferred to again in Mason to Fremont, 9 April 1847, Doc. No. 179; it is pos- 
sible that Mason's directions were given orally. 

2. As transcription of the document was difficult, what appear to be the 
correct names or initials are given in brackets. Unless specifically noted, all 
names are Usted in one of three sources: rogers [3]; pioneer register; 
"Receipt Roll" of Companies A, B, C, D, E, and F, California Battalion, 
item 137, and Appendix D of the snyder calendar. 

3. B. A. Reed and J. H. Kellogg are not listed in any of the above sources. 

170. Richard B. Mason to Fremont 

Pueblo de los Angeles 
April 7. 1847 


The term of service of the Battalion of California Volunteers (with 
a few individual exceptions) having already expired, and as they 
now claim to be discharged from the service at their present position, 


on the ground, as well as on the pledge which, you yesterday in- 
formed me, was made to them by yourself, at the time of raising the 
Corps, to induce them to enter the service: Viz "that they should be 
discharged when the country was quiet at any time & place they 
should demand it, even though the term of service for which they 
were engaged might not have expired." That this promise was made 
to them under the circumstances it was, may be kept in good faith, 
you are relieved from so much of the execution of Department Or- 
ders No. 2 of the 1st March 1847, as requires you to march them to 
Yerba Buena. You will therefore be pleased to "muster them out of 
service" at once at their present Cantonement. 

The Naval Officers now serving with your Battalion, you will im- 
mediately relieve from duty, and order them to repair to Monterey 
and report to Commodore Biddle. 

I had just written the foregoing when I received your letter of 
today & its enclosures. The Volunteers having claimed to be dis- 
charged at their present post, I cannot order any transportation to be 
furnished in kind to them from the place of discharge to the place 
of Enlistment, further than to say that the Sloop of war, Warren, 
Capt. Hull, now at San Pedro, will take to Yerba Buena as many as 
one hundred — the ship cannot accommodate a greater number. I 
have no instructions to give touching your contract with the men so 
far as it relates to their pay. That the Warren may not be unneces- 
sarily detained at her present anchorage which is an exposed one, 
those who go in her must be embarked on Friday next, & I desire 
that you conduct them to the ship yourself, taking care to have prop- 
erly noted on the rolls those who take passage in her. Horses & Horse 
Equipage will be furnished the Topographical party, that the Gen- 
eral requires you to take to Monterey, from those now in possession 
of your Battalion. All other Public property in the possession of your 
Corps or any individual thereof, beyond what may be necessary to 
mount the Topographical party, you will cause to be turned over to 
Lt. Davidson,' 1st Dragoons for which he will give the proper re- 
ceipts. Any further answer to your communication has been antici- 
pated in that part of this letter written before its reception. Very 
Respectfully Your Obt. Servt. 

(Signed) R. B. Mason 
Col. 1st Dragoons 
Lt. Col. J. C. Fremont 
U. S. Army Comdg. Cal. Volunteers 


Copy of enclosure in R. B. Mason to H. S. Turner, 10 April 1847, which 
is a part of enclosure D in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-202 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

1. Lieut. John Wynn Davidson (d. 1881), later brevet brigadier general, 
had been in charge of the two howitzers which Kearny had brought over 
mountain and desert from Santa Fe to California. Soon after Mason wrote 
this letter, Davidson became acting assistant quartermaster at Los Angeles. 

171. Fremont to Richard B. Mason 

Angeles, April 8th 1847 


Immediately on the receipt of your letter of yesterday, I sent the 
Adjutant to San Gabriel with your permission for passage of the 
Troops on board the Warren, but up to this time have received no 
reply. I w^ill send an officer to you w^ith the first intelligence received 
from the Garrison. Very Respectfully, Your Obt. Servt. 

(Signed) J. C. Fremont 
Lt Col Rifm. 
Col. R. B. Mason 
1st Dragoons, Angeles 

Copy of enclosure in R. B. Mason to H. S. Turner, 10 April 1847, which 
is a part of enclosure D in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-202 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

172. Fremont to Richard B. Mason 

Angeles, April 8th. 1847 


The insecurity w^ill render it very dangerous for the men now 
being discharged here to travel unarmed. I therefore respectfully re- 
quest that they may be allowed to retain their Arms, myself becom- 
ing responsible for the safe delivery of these at Monterey or Yerba 


Buena. I am informed by the Paymaster that the accounts of the 
men will not be ready in time for any considerable number of them 
to embark in the Warren. Very Respectfully Your Obdt. Servt. 

(Signed) J. C. Fremont 
Lt. Col Rifl. Regt. 
Col. R. B. Mason 
U.S. Dragoons 

Copy of enclosure in R. B. Mason to H. S. Turner, 10 April 1847, which 
is a part of enclosure D in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-202 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

173. Richard B. Mason to Fremont 

Angeles, April 8th 1847 

The Company of Volunteers that have lately been discharged at 
San Diego had some horses, and perhaps some other public property 
in their charge. Those horses, I learn, are now in the possession of 
Ex Lt. Aguillo^ who refuses to give them up to Capt. Hunter" of the 
Mormon Battalion Commanding that post. Be pleased to inform 
me whether you have at any time, given any instructions touching, 
the detention of this public property. I am very Respectfully Your 
Obdt. Servt. 

(Signed) R. B. Mason 
Col. 1st Drags. 
Lt. Col. }. C. Fremont 
U. S. Army, Comdg. Cal. Volunteers 

Copy of enclosure in R. B. Mason to H. S. Turner, 10 April 1847, which is 
a part of enclosure D in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-202 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

1. A reference to former captain Santiago E. Argiiello (see Doc. No. 143). 

2. A native of Kentucky, Jesse D. Hunter (1804-77), commanding Com- 
pany B of the Mormon Battalion, had been placed in charge of the San Diego 
garrison by Cooke. After the Mormons were discharged. Hunter remained in 
California and on two occasions acted as U.S. Indian agent (tyler, 120, 271, 

281; PIONEER register). 


174. Richard B. Mason to Fremont 

Pueblo de los Angeles 
April 8th 1847 

I am this moment in the receipt of your letter of this date. Your 
battalion was ordered to Yerba Buena in their armed and organized 
capacity, there to be discharged, & transportation both by land and 
water was at hand for their accommodation. The order has not been 
obeyed, but their discharge claimed at their present post, it has been 
accorded to them, and I am not at liberty to leave in their hands any 
of the public property, nor am I authorized to detain the Warren, 
her presence being elsewhere required, for their accommodation 
now that they have ceased to be soldiers. 

Had orders been obeyed no "insecurity" would have been felt or 
"danger" apprehended, for the want of arms. Your Battalion have 
made their election and must abide their choice. It has been nearly 
one month since you received orders relative to the discharge of your 
battalion, and surely, the accounts of the men ought to have been 
prepared in that time. Very Respectfully Your Obdt. Servt. 

(Signed) R. B. Mason 
Col. 1st Dragoons 
Lt. Col. J. C. Fremont 
Mtd. Riflemen, Comadg. Cal. 

Copy of enclosure in R. B. Mason to H. S. Turner, 10 April 1847, which 
is a part of enclosure D in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-202 1847, f/wK-209 1846). 


175. Fremont to Richard B. Mason 

Angeles, April 8. 1847 

I have the honor to be in the receipt of your communication re- 
quiring me to put you in possession of Orders which I have previ- 


ously given to Capt. Arguillo [Argiiello], lately of the Calif ornian 

It will in my judgement be a sufficient explanation of the course 
pursued by Captain Arguillo to state, that in view of his own ac- 
countability he is entirely justified in refusing to deliver to any other 
order than my own, any property which may have been placed by 
me in his custody and safe keeping. I am very Respectfully Your 
Obt. Servt. 

(Signed) }. C. Fremont 
Lt. Col. Rifle Regt. 
Col. R. B. Mason 
U. S. Dragoons, Angeles 

Copy of enclosure in R. B. Mason to H. S. Turner, 10 April 1847, which 
is a part of enclosure D in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-202 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

176. Richard B. Mason to Fremont 

Pueblo de los Angeles 
April 8th 1847 

Your third note of this date is received, in reply to mine of this 
morning which you have misconstrued. I merely required to know 
whether you had given any instructions touching the detention of 
certain public property; and did not as you suppose call on you to 
to put me in possession of the Orders, if indeed any had been given: 
but I now direct that you furnish me with a full copy of any order 
that you have given for the detention and refusal to be turned over 
to any one, of the property alluded to in my first letter of today. I am 
Respectfully Yr. Obdt. Servt. 

(Signed) R. B. Mason 
Col. 1st Dragoons 
Lt. Col. J. C. Fremont 
Mounted Riflemen 
Comdg. Cal. Vols. 


Copy of enclosure in R. B. Mason to H. S. Turner, 10 April 1847, which is 
a part of enclosure D in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-202 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

177. Fremont to Richard B. Mason 



April 9th. 1847 

I am in receipt of your order of the 9th [8th] inst. requiring me to 
furnish to you a full copy of any order relative to the detention of 
public property, addressed by me to Capt. Arguillo [Argiiello] of 
the California Battalion. 

In reply I have the honor to inform you that as the commandant 
of the California Battalion, no such order has been addressed by me 
to Capt. Arguillo. Very Respectfully Yr. Obdt. Servt. 

(Signed) J. C. Fremont 
Lt. Col. Rifle Regt. 
Col. R. B. Mason 
1st Dragoons 

Copy of enclosure in R. B. Mason to H. S. Turner, 10 April 1847, which 
is a part of enclosure D in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-202 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

178. Richard B. Mason to Fremont 

Angeles, April 9th. 1847 


If you desire it you can retain any of the public Arms for the use 
of the Topographical party whilst on their march to Monterey. Be 
pleased to let me know the number of the original party that still 
remain, as such, under pay, and that will accompany you to Mon- 
terey, what number of Animals will be required for their march. 

I have not yet received the list of horses & horse equipage that I 


asked you for on the 6th inst.;^ be pleased to let me have it at your 
earliest convenience. I am Respectfully Your Obdt. Servt. 

(Signed) R. B. Mason 
Col. 1st Dragoons 
Lt. Col, J. C. Fremont 
Mounted Riflemen 

Copy of enclosure in R. B. Mason to H. S. Turner, 10 April 1847, which 
is a part of enclosure D in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-202 1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

1. This 6 April 1847 letter has not been found, and, as noted earlier. 
Mason's request of 6 April may have been a verbal one. He certainly did not 
include it among the copies of his correspondence with JCF which he for- 
warded to Henry S. Turner. 

179. Fremont to Richard B. Mason 


April 9th 1847 

I am in receipt of your letter of this date making of me several 
interrogations relative to a party of men under my command during 
a Geographical Exploration, under the direction of the War Depart- 
ment. I have the honor to reply to your interrogations in order as 
follows, viz: The number of the party properly belonging to that 
expedition, and now under my Command, is twenty four, so nearly 
as I can recollect, the list not being here at hand. 

The number of Animals required for the march of that party, in- 
cluding transportation of the instruments and property belonging to 
the expedition, will be about one hundred and twenty. 

Agreeably to the orders of General S. W. Kearny requiring me to 
march my Exploring party to Monterey, I had already properly 
equipped them for the journey. 

In regard to the Statement which is referred to as having been 
required on the 6th inst. I have to reply that I did not myself know 
the number of horses or quantity of equipage at this place in the 
possession of the Quartermaster, the number & quantity frequently 
varying according to the necessities of the service here. 


Immediately on the receipt of your instructions I directed this 
officer to transfer the property to Lt. Davidson as early as could be 
done without confusion, or neglect to his accountability, & to fur- 
nish you with a list of the same. He informs me that he has ap- 
pointed this afternoon for the transfer/ I am very Respectfully Your 
Obdt. Servt. 

(Signed) }. C. Fremont 

Lt. Col. Rifle Regt. 

Commanding Exploring Expedition to Oregon & California 

Col. R. B. Mason 
1st Dragoons 

Copy of enclosure in R. B. Mason to H. S. Turner, 10 April 1847, which is 
a part of enclosure D in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, LR, 
K-202 1847, f/wK-209 1846). 

1. The actual transfer of property took place on 11 April. The following 
list, which may be found as enclosure E-4 in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847, 
indicates how meager and poor it was: 

Invoice of public property this day turned over by Mr. J. R. Snyder Qr. 
M. Califa Battalion to Lieut. J. W. Davidson, 1 Orgs., a. a. Qr. M., 
U.S. A. viz: 

30 Thirty horses — in bad condition 
2 Two mules — in bad condition 
50 Fifty Saddle trees — Serviceable 
22 Twenty-two Saddle trees — unserviceable 
70 Seventy wooden Stirrups 
8 right Iron stirrups 

2 Two Pack Saddle trees — Serviceable 

1 One " " " Unserviceable 

3 Three Spurs 

3 Three Bridle-bits — unserviceable 
3 Three tents — serviceable 
5 Five " unserviceable 
20 Twenty bars of iron, weighing each 14 lbs. 

14 Fourteen tent poles 

15 Fifteen Singletrees 

12 Twelve Shovels 
3 Three Pick Axes 

13 Thirteen pieces of Canvass — whole 90 yds. 

(Signed) J. R. Snyder 
Q. M. Califa. Bat. 


April 11. 1847 


(Sd.) J. W. Davidson 

Lieut. Drags, a. a. q. m. 

180. Robert F. Stockton to Archibald H. Gillespie 


U. S. Frigate Congress 
Harbor of San Diego 
April 10th 1847 
Dear Sir: 

In your letter of the 5th by Mr. Bandini, you say that you desire to 
see me and that if I remain here beyond the 10th, you will come on 
for that purpose. 

I send this by Flacco (who has just arrived, 2 o'clock P.M.) to say 
that I will remain here until the morning of the 17th that you may 
have the opportunity to see me before I go North. I expect to go 
home soon myself and therefore you had better not fail to be here by 
the 16th and as much sooner as you can. 

Ask Colonel Fremont for a copy of the Commission as Governor 
which I gave him and to endorse on it the date he received it. 

Commodore Riddle^ has treated me with great respect and kind- 
ness. He has sent to me the last orders from the Secretary, which 
were addressed to me, but which Commodore Shubrick did not see 
fit to send. They are very gratifying to me, besides which I have a 
private letter from the Secretary which is all that I could desire it 
to be. 

It would have been better for you perhaps if you had seen me be- 
fore, and you cannot now see me too soon. You may rely upon it that 
I will bring this matter out triumphantly if I am not baulked by my 
own friends. 

I have taken my gloves off and they will find Commodore Stock- 
ton the same man he was twenty years ago, and a hard customer at 
any thing they may drive him to. I mean to make clean work of it. 
I have begun by sending an article to the Californian in answer to an 
Editorial," which no doubt you saw.^ 

But you may rely upon it that sudden fits and starts wont answer. 
Our course must be well considered, firm and determined. I say 
therefore you had better see me as soon as possible. 

You will consider this letter strictly confidential , and do not inti- 
mate to any one my views and intentions. I do not want any one else 
to know my purposes. From my letters, I judge that Commodore 


Sloat has done no good at home for you or Fremont, but you shall 
know all when you see me. Very Sincerely & Truly Yours, 

R. F. Stockton 
Major A. H. Gillespie 

LS (CLU — Gillespie Papers). Endorsed. 

1. Commodore James Biddle (1783-1848) arrived at Monterey from Callao 
just as Henry S. Turner started south early in March with Kearny's depart- 
ment orders no. 2. He replaced Shubrick as naval commander of the Pacific 

2. Referring to American preparations for the move on Los Angeles, an 
editorial in the Calijornian, 13 Feb. 1847, had stated, "Commodore Stockton 
announced to the officers that the whole expedition was placed under the 
command of General Kearny, himself holding his station as commander-in- 
chief of California, and Gen. Kearny did command the whole expedition." 

3. Stockton's long article dealing with the question of supremacy in Cali- 
fornia between him and Kearny was not printed in the Calijornian until 17 
July 1847. The delay was due not only to the belief of one of the editors 
that the controversy was a "personal difficulty" between the two men and 
might be much better settled in the United States, but also to his fruitless 
attempts, by letter and personal interview, to learn from Kearny "the facts" 
which occurred at San I)iego before the march of the American forces on Los 
Angeles. Kearny intimated that if Robert B. Semple published Stockton's 
letter and its accompanying vouchers, he would hold him accountable. The 
editor judiciously waited until Kearny left California and then published the 
article. It began with a letter from Stockton dated 10 March 1847 from 
aboard the Congress in San Diego harbor. It branded as untrue the editorial 
statement of 13 Feb. 1847 that the whole expedition had been under the 
command of Kearny. Stockton wrote, "On the request of General Kearny, 
and with the consent of Lieut. Rowan (to whom, with the consent of Lieut. 
Minor, who had previously held it, I had given the command only the night 
before), I appointed General Kearny to command the troops, and so an- 
nounced it; at the same time stated distinctly that I still retained my own 
position as commander-in-chief; the word California did not pass my lips 
upon that occasion." Stockton's letter was followed by one from purser 
William Speiden, 16 March 1847, likewise contradicting the editorial and 
avowing himself to be the author of a letter which had appeared in the 
Calif ornian on 28 Jan. 1847. The first Speiden letter had given an account 
of the march to Los Angeles and treated Stockton as commander-in-chief. 
Next followed the statements of Speiden and three other naval officers — 
Stephen C. Rowan, George Minor, and J. Zeilin — attesting that Kearny had 
been second in command to Stockton. The article ended with a statement by 
fourteen naval officers, some commissioned, some not, attesting to the truth 
of Speiden's January account of the march to Los Angeles and the chain of 
command. Stephen C. Rowan, who was later to hedge, probably because of 
the influence of Lieut. William Radford, Kearny's brother-in-law, specifically 
stated, "I believe the written account [Speiden's] of our march to be circum- 
stantially correct" (Calijornian, 28 Jan., 13 Feb., 26 June, 17 July 1847; 
National Intelligencer, 4 Feb. 1848). 


181. Richard B. Mason to Fremont 

Pueblo de los Angeles 
April 12th 1847 

Be pleased to furnish me with a Hst of such civil appointments as 
you have made in this territory, setting forth the names of the indi- 
viduals appointed, to what office & when. 

I would prefer seeing myself as I told you in conversation today 
such of the official records as you have, civil & military, that I may 
judge whether they contain any information that may be useful to 
me, or influence me in the discharge of any of those duties with 
which Genl. Kearny, the Govnr. of the Territory, has charged me. 
I therefore desire that you submit the whole of them, civil & military, 
to me early in the day tomorrow as I am making efforts to leave 
here the next day for Monterey. I am very Respectfully Your 
Obdt. &c. 

(Signed) R. B. Mason 
Col. 1 Dragns. 
Lt. Col. }. C. Fremont 
Mtd. Riflemen 

Copy of enclosure in R. B. Mason to Kearny, 26 April 1847, which is 
enclosure E-2 in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, LR, K-202 1847, 
f/w K-209 1846). 

182. Fremont to Richard B. Mason 



April 13th. 1847 

I have the honor to be in receipt of your communication of last 
Evening requiring from me a list of civil appointments made by me 
in this territory and farther demanding to be put in possession of 
such official records as I may have, civil or military. 

In compliance with your order I send by the hands of the former 
or late adjutant of the Cala. Battalion, Mr. W. N. Loker the few 


papers pertaining to that Battalion which I can at present find. 
These I request to be returned to me. 

Such brief record of my official acts as Govnr. of the territory that 
were preserved by me has been forwarded to the United States^ 

My position here having been denounced as usurpation by General 
Kearny I could not anticipate from him any call for these papers and 
in requiring [?] myself from the general government means & 
authority to comply with my engagement, it became necessary that 
these and their objects should be thoroughly made known. 

The permanent civil appointments made by me are two, viz : Don 
Santiago Argiiello to be collector of the customs for the port of San 

Don Pedro Carrillo to be collector for the customs for the Port of 
Santa Barbara. I am very respectfully Your obdt. Servt. 

(Signed) }. C. Fremont 
Lt. Col. Rifle Regt. 
Col. R. B. Mason 
1st Dragoons 

Copy of enclosure in R. B. Mason to Kearny, 26 April 1847, which is 
enclosure E-3 in Kearny to R. Jones, 3 May 1847 (DNA-94, LR, K-202 
1847, f/w K-209 1846). 

1. Presumably these papers were carried east by William H. Russell, JCF's 
former secretary of state, who left California about 23 March (ct. martial, 

183. Fremont to Richard B. Mason 

CiuDAD DE LOS Angeles, April 14, 1847 


I have the honor to request through my friend. Major P. B. Read- 
ing, who will hand you this note, that you apologize for the injurious 
language applied to me this day. Very Respectfully, your obedient 

J. C. Fremont 
Lieut. Col. Mounted Riflemen 
Col. R. B. Mason 
Col. Dragoons, Ciudad de los Angeles 


Printed in bigelow, 205-6. Also in Washington Daily Union, 3 Sept. 1848, 
in Benton's speech opposing the nomination of Kearny for the brevet of 
major general, as were the other letters dealing with the altercation between 
}CF and Mason. Benton states that Mason's determination to have JCF 
produce the horses, which had been sent to graze in the country in prepara- 
tion for his contemplated expedition to (leneral Scott in Mexico, was responsi- 
ble for the challenge to a duel. Mason sent twice for the former governor to 
come to "the tavern" to answer questions about the horses. JCF resented 
Mason's manner of questioning and used language which in turn caused 
Mason to reply, "None of your insolence, or I will put you in irons." 

184. Richard B. Mason to Fremont 

Angeles, April 14, 1847 


I have just received your note of this evening, and can only repeat 
in writing, what I stated to you verbally, when we parted, viz: "I 
thought you intended to be so. You best knew whether you did or 
did not." Your not disavowing it, left me to infer that I was not mis- 
taken; with that impression upon my mind, I can say nothing more 
until it be removed. I am, respectfully, your obedient servant. 

R. B. Mason 
Lieut. Col. J. C. Fremont 
Mounted Riflemen 

Printed in bigelow, 206. 


185. Fremont to Richard B. Mason 

CiuDAD DE LOS Angeles, April 14, 1847 


An apology having been declined, Major Reading will arrange the 
preliminaries for a meeting, requiring personal satisfaction/ Very 
respectfully, your obedient servant, 

J. C. Fremont 
Lieut. Col. Mounted Riflemen 
Col. R. B. Mason 
First Dragoons, Ciudad de los Angeles 

Printed in bigelow, 206. 

1. Jacob W. Harlan recorded many years later that he had "heard persons 
tell queer yarns about the ceremonies, and scrapings, and bowings" which 
passed between Mason and Pierson B. Reading when the latter carried the 
challenge to a duel. Mason verbally accepted and selected double-barreled 
shotguns, a firearm for the use of which he was famous. After the weapons 
had been chosen, Reading learned that JCF could not have hit "the side of a 
hay-stack" (harlan, 85-86). 

One naval officer opined that Mason had "played bluff" and would suffer. 
"He provoked the quarrel by giving way to his temper & should have fought 
like a Gentleman & not like a Western bully or Texas cutthroat" (mclane, 

186. Richard B. Mason to Fremont 

Angeles, April 15, 1847 

With a view of the adjustment of my private affairs, it is necessary 
that I return to Monterey, before I afford you the meeting you desire. 
We shall probably reach there within a few days of each other, I will 
then, as soon as circumstances permit, arrange the necessary pre- 
liminaries for the meeting. I am respectfully your obedient servant, 

R. B. Mason 
Lieut. Col. Fremont 
Mounted Riflemen 

Printed in bigelow, 207. 



187. Fremont to Richard B. Mason 

CiuDAD DE LOS Angeles, April 15, 1847 

I am in receipt of your letter of this date, and in reply have the 
honor to state that I will hold myself in readiness for a meeting at 
Monterey, at such time as you may designate. I am, very respectfully, 
your obedient servant, 

J. C. Fremont 
Lieut. Col. Mounted Riflemen 
Col. R. B. Mason 
First Dragoons, Ciudad de los Angeles 

Printed in bigelow, 207. 

188. Robert F. Stockton to Archibald H. Gillespie 


[San Diego] 
[April 1847] 
My Dear Sir: 

I have called Flacco back to say to you that if you are on suffi- 
ciently good terms and other circumstances justify it you had better 
try to make up the quarrel between Fremont & Mason and suggest to 
Mason at all events to wait at the Angeles until he can see me. It 
may be too late when they get to Monterey. Yours, 

R. F. Stockton 

ALS, RC (CLU — Ciillespie Papers). Addressed. Endorsed: "Commod. 
Stockton San Diego Mar 1847. To make up the quarrel between Mason & 
Fremont." Gillespie has obviously made a dating error in the endorsement. 
Stockton must have written the letter sometime between 17 and 21 April. 


189. Robert F. Stockton to Archibald H. Gillespie 


U. S. Frigate Congress 
Harbor of San Diego 
April 23rd. 1847 
My Dear Sir: 

I have your letter by Flacco, 9 A. M. Nothing has occurred here 
since my last. I hope you sent on my Despatches without delay. I 
have written to Fremont to say that I hope to leave San Pedro for 
Monterey on 1st May, immediately after the arrival of my "Courier" 
from Monterey. When you come down to San Pedro, get Johnson & 
Alexander to sign that letter.^ I have not of course said to Fremont 
anything about your letter, as he did not allude to the matter in his 
letter^ to me. 

We must stand by him, let what may come — whether Bondage or 
Stripes. Very truly yours, 

R. F. Stockton 

P. S. Flacco says he can go to Monterey and bac/{ to San Pedro by 
tomorrow weeJ{, which will be 1st May. If you have not sent my des- 
patches on before he arrives, please to send him with them without 
delay. I give him Fifty Dollars. 

Major A. H. Gillespie 

ALS (CLU — Gillespie Papers). Endorsed: "Commo. Stockton, San Diego, 
April 23d. 1847 asking more favors!" 

1. Johnson and Alexander have not been identified, and the contents of the 
letter are unknown. 

2. Not found. 

190. Stephen Watts Kearny to Fremont 

Head Qrs., 10th Mil. Dept. 
Monterey, Calif a. May 4, 1847 

It has been reported here, by some of the Discharged Men of the 
Battalion of California volunteers, just arrived from the Pueblo de 


los Angeles, that a challenge has passed between Col, Mason, of the 
1st Dragoons, and yourself, the meeting to take place at or near 

As I am about leaving here for the South,^ in consequence of 
rumors of an excitement among the People in that District of coun- 
try, it becomes my duty to inform you that the good of the Public 
Service, the necessity of preserving tranquillity in California, im- 
periously require, that the meeting above referred to should not take 
place at this time, and in this country, and you are hereby officially 
directed by me to proceed no further in this matter. 

A similar communication has been addressed to Colonel Mason. 
Very respectfully. Your Ob. Servt. 

(Signed) S. W. Kearny 
Brigadier General 
Lieutenant Colonel Fremont, 
Regiment Mounted Rifles, Monterey. 

N.B. A letter to same purport, and of same date, addressed to Col. 

Copy of enclosure in Kearny to R. Jones, 21 Jan. 1848 (DNA-94, LR, K-12 
1848); also in bigelow, 208-9. The attention of the War Department was 
brought to this order in Jan. 1848 by Benton, JCF's counsel, who requested 
that Kearny be required to communicate it to that department (Benton to 
Adjutant (General, 8 Jan. 1848, DNA-94, LR, F-8 1848; Benton to Adjutant 
General, 15 Jan. 1848, enclosed in Kearny to Adjutant General, 21 Jan. 1848, 
DNA-94, LR, K-12 1848). Benton alleged that this order of Kearny's and 
James Biddle's letter to Mason (enclosure in Mason to Fremont, 19 May 1847, 
Doc. No. 191) were attempts to extricate Mason from the affair. Kearny's act 
of postponing the duel by this order was a strange proceeding, since his duty 
by military regulations was to arrest both parties. 

1. Kearny arrived in Los Angeles on 9 May. He was accompanied by Col. 
Jonathan D. Stevenson, who commanded the New York Volunteers, which 
was replacing the Mormon Battalion as the garrison for the city. 

191. Richard B. Mason to Fremont 

Monterey, May 19, 1847 


The affair between us has been made public here by the arrival, 
about the 4th instant, of some of the discharged men of the late bat- 
talion of California volunteers from Los Angeles. 


I did not expect that this affair would have gained publicity until 
it had finally been terminated, but it has turned out otherwise. The 
result is, it has come to the knowledge of the general, and you doubt- 
less have received, as well as myself, a communication from him 
upon the subject/ This unforeseen and unexpected circumstance, 
together with reasons which you will find in the copy of a letter on 
the next page, dated on the 4th of the present month, renders it 
proper that the meeting should be postponed to some future time 
and place. 

I am inclined to believe that, under the existing state of things, 
you will at once see the propriety of this course. I am, respectfully, 
Your obedient servant, 

R. B. Mason 

Lieut. Col. Fremont 


James Biddle to Richard B. Mason 

U. S. Ship Columbus 
Monterey, May 4th, 1847 
My Dear Colonel: 

A party of Californian volunteers, recently under Lieut. Col. Fre- 
mont, have just arrived on their way to the north. They state publicly 
that at Puebla a challenge had passed between yourself and Lieut. 
Col. Fremont, and that on the arrival of the latter here, a hostile 
meeting would take place. I learn that this statement is generally 
credited on shore. As your personal friend, and the friend of your 
public character, this statement has given me great pain. You cannot 
but be sensible that, in the present condition of things in California, 
personal collisions between the officers must be highly injurious to 
the public interest. You cannot but know that it is the duty of all of 
us to suppress for the moment every angry feeling of a personal na- 
ture, and to give ourselves zealously, cordially, and exclusively to the 
public service. Permit me to appeal to your patriotism, and to your 
sense of public duty, and upon these grounds to entreat that any con- 
templated hostile meeting may be postponed. Elsewhere, and at an- 
other time, it may not be improper, but here, in the present dis- 


tracted state of affairs, it could have no other result than to injure the 
public, and to injure your military reputation. I remain, very truly 
Your friend, &c., 

James Biddle^ 
Col. Mason, U. S. Army, Monterey 

Printed in bigelow, 209. 

1. JCF had left Los Angeles on 13 May (Kearny to R. Jones, 13 May 1847, 
no. 11, DNA-94, LR, K-238 1847) and was now in Monterey, bigelow, 208, 
maintains that JCF called at Mason's quarters to let the future governor of 
California know of his presence and availability for the duel, and that 
Kearny's order of 4 May (Doc. No. 190) was delivered to him afterward. But 
apparently JCF already knew that Kearny had forbidden the duel from a 
previous conversation with him in Los Angeles. 

2. JCF's father-in-law resented Biddle's interference in the controversy. In 
his speech opposing the nomination of Kearny for the brevet of major general, 
Benton said, "As for Commodore Biddle, there were reasons why he should 
not have interfered at all, where a member of my family was concerned, 
except by taking a position on the highest pinnacle of honor, impartiality, and 
humanity. I had struck the house of Biddle in striking the Bank of the United 
States; but never after it was down. I do not kick the dead lion. I made war 
upon him in his high and palmy state: since his fall, no one has ever heard 
me name him. I say nothing of him, his family, or the bank. The same re- 
serve should have prevented Commodore Biddle from interfering to the 
prejudice of my son-in-law on the far distant coast of the Pacific" (Washing- 
ton Daily Union, 3 Sept. 1848). 

192. Fremont to Abel Stearns 

Camp on the Salinas river near Monterey 

May 19, 1847 
My dear Sir, 

I send you this note by Jacob, whom business requires me to send 
to your city. I regret that I have not my affairs sufficiently arranged 
to write you on matters of business by so certain a conveyance, but I 
will endeavor to find another equally so before I leave. I was disap- 
pointed not to see you before but hope that no unpleasant accident 
detained you at the rancho. On some subjects of general importance 
to the country I should have been [glad] to have had your views and 
did wrong to postpone informing myself to so late an hour. I[t] 


might have been useful at home. When you reply to this which I 
trust you will not fail to do by Jacob I will thank you to mention any 
one particular thing or measure which may occur to you as useful 
here at this time. 

Nothing of interest is going on here, so far as is known to me. 
Every thing and every body appear quiet, the only busy people are 
the horse thieves. I am told that one of the rancheros sent in word 
that they had heard of a new governor and would like to see some of 
his men. Even the newspaper formerly published here has been re- 
moved to Yerba Buena.^ Mr. Larkin is there at present and I sup- 
pose will soon locate himself there.^ 

I have commenced my preparations for the homeward march and 
in about a week shall be ready to start. 

Commodore Biddle goes home in the Columbus immediately after 
the departure of our party. Commodore Shubrick will remain in 
command. He had been sent to capture Guaymas, Mazatlan and 
Acapulco, and the Preble has been sent to bring him back. Please 
present my remembrances to the family. I am with much respect & 
regard Your Obedt. Servt., 

J. C. Fremont 

ALS, RC (CSmH). 

1. A reference to the Calijornian. 

2. In 1848 Larkin went to San Francisco permanently. 

193. Fremont to Richard B. Mason 

Monterey, May 22d. 1847 

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt, on yesterday, of your 
note of the 19th instant, accompanied by a copy of a letter from 
Commodore Biddle to yourself. 

The object of your note appears to be to induce me to consent to a 
further, and indefinite postponement of a meeting. If such be your 
desire I am willing to comply with it, trusting that you will apprise 
me of the earliest moment at which the meeting can take place 


W 'h 






consistently with your convenience and sense of propriety. I am most 
respectfully, Your obedient servant, 

John C. Fremont 
Col. R. B. Mason, Monterey 

Printed in bigelow, 210-11. 

194. Abel Stearns to Fremont 

Angs. May 23d. 1847 
Charles J. Fremont Esqr. 
Dear Sir: 

By your servant Jacob I rec'd this morning yours of the 19th inst. I 
regret not to have seen you the morning before you left as I had in- 
tended; my delay was caused by some difficulties which took place 
between the servants and which I had to settle. I arrived in the morn- 
ing a short time after you left. Have the Publishers of the "Cali- 
fornian" taken fright that they have moved from Monterey to San 
Franco, or do they wish to pass the warm season in the fog of the 
latter place? 

As you are about to leave this "Western Star" for the more bril- 
liant ones of the east, it is to be supposed you will communicate im- 
mediately with the Govt, or heads of department and from your 
acquired knowledge of the affairs and people of this not little impor- 
tant Territory you will use your influence to secure to California 
what is most desired by all good Citizens both native and foreign 
residents. 1st that this may never be returned to Mexico, 2d. that the 
Government of the U. S. will as soon as possible establish a perma- 
nent territorial govt, with a wise and select council named by the 
government itself, 3d. as the judiciary department of Califa. is in a 
bad state or I may say we have none at all, that the govt, of the 
territory be empowered to appoint all the necessary officers to this 
most impor[tant] branch of all governments, 4th. and not least, 
procure to send a number of Catholick Clergymen who understand 
the Castillian Language, men of liberal principles and good moral 
Character. Such men would be of much importance both to the govt, 
and welfare of the people. 5th. Should Califa. ultimately compose a 


part of the U. S. a govt, armed Steamer would be of importance to 
play [ply] between this and Panama as probably at present the most 
prompt means of facilitating the interests and communications of the 
govt, and people its master. 6th. Should war continue with Mexico 
some additional force of regular troops should be sent here. 

I have thought proper to note the above observations which per- 
haps might Serve you as a memorandum to remind you a little of 
the place you are to leave, and its necessities. 

You will undoubtedly inform some of your friends (Merchants in 
the States) that there is a scarcity of goods in Calif a. of every descrip- 
tion, some well assorted cargoes would return the merchant a sure 
profit. Dry goods, groceries, hard crockery & Glass ware, furniture, 
Boots Shoes, Hats &c. all are wanted. 


Draft, SC (CSmH). Also in haw.good [1], 90-91. This is a reply to JCF's 
letter of 19 May 1847. 

195. Richard B. Mason to Fremont 

Monterey, Cal., May 24, 1847 

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 
22d instant. I shall certainly promptly inform you when the peculiar 
official obligations, under which I find myself placed in this country, 
are so far removed as to enable me to meet you.^ I am, respectfully, 
Your obedient servant, 

R. B. Mason 
Lieutenant-Colonel J. C. Fremont, U.S.A. 

Printed in bigelow, 211. 

1. According to the Fremonts, Mason sent a note in 1850 which informed 
JCF that if he would come out to St. Louis, he should have the satisfaction 
which Mason promised him in 1847. The session of Congress in which JCF 
was a senator was closing, and he was about to depart to California with his 
family. He ignored the note, and Mason died before the year was over 
(bigelow, 213). 


196. Pierson B. Reading to Fremont 

Monterey, Calif., May 27, 1847 
Dear Sir: 

In reply to your favor of yesterday, I will state that immediately 
after having delivered your challenge to Colonel Mason, he in- 
formed me that he w^ould give you the desired meeting, and said to 
me, in order that there might be as little delay as possible, he would 
inform me (though informally) that he would select double-bar- 
relled shot-guns as the weapons to be used on the occasion. I replied 
to him at once that I should lose no time in obtaining such a weapon 
for Colonel Fremont— that in the morning I should have him pro- 
vided with a good gun. When I delivered the challenge to Colonel 
Mason, it was about eight o'clock in the evening, though you re- 
ceived this written acceptance, through his friend Captain [Andrew 
Jackson] Smith, near noon the following day, in which he proposed 
that the meeting should take place at Monterey, distant from the 
Puebla de los Angeles about four [hundred] miles. This gave us 
considerable surprise, as we expected and were fully prepared to 
have taken the field that day— forming our opinions from the char- 
acter of his conversation to me the preceding evening. 

Since that period, your correspondence with Colonel Mason con- 
tains the history of this affair. 

I am, most respectfully, your very obedient servant, 

P. B. Reading 
Lieutenant-Colonel J. C. Fremont, U.S.A. 

Printed in bigelow, 211-12. 

197. 10th Military Department Orders No. 19 

Head Qrs. 10th Mil. Dept. 
Monterey, California, May 29, 1847 

I . General Kearny being under orders to proceed to the U. States, 
will leave here on the 31st inst. for Washington. 


The Command of the 10th Mil. Dept. and consequently the 
office of Governor of California, will devolve upon Col. R. B. Mason 
of the 1st Dragoons. 

II. The General will be accompanied to the U. States by Lieut. 
Col. Fremont, Regt. of Mounted Riflemen, Major Swords Qr. Mr., 
Capts Cook & Turner 1st Dragoons & Asst. Surgeon Sanderson,^ 
Mormon Battalion. 

III. Lieut. Col. Fremont will discharge such men of his Topogl. 
Party as may desire to continue in California, the remainder with 
those men who came to this country under Lieut. Emory, Topi. 
Engineers, will accompany Genl. Kearny to the U. States to be there 

IV. Lieut. Col. Fremont will turn over to Lieut. Halleck, Engi- 
neers, for Lieut Warner Topi. Engineers, the Instruments in his 
charge belonging to the Topi. Dept. taking receipts for the same." 

By order of Brig. Genl. S. W. Kearny 

H. S. Turner 
Capt. A.A.A. Genl. 

DS (DNA-393, 10th Military Department, LR. General Orders 19, May 
29, 1847). Endorsed. ICF and some of the men of his old topographical party 
had appeared at Monterey at an hour fixed by Kearny, to be reviewed and 
given orders by the general. The explorer asked if he might go to Yerba 
Buena to get the botanical and geological specimens he had been collecting, 
but Kearny refused permission (ct. martial, 113-14). 

1. George B. Sanderson would resign from the Army when Kearny reached 
Fort Leavenworth. The Mormon volunteers had intensely disliked the "fiend- 
ish doctor" but were unsuccessful in resisting "his calomel and arsenic," 
which he administered with an old iron spoon (tyler, 146-47). 

2. Lieut. Henry Wager Halleck (1815-72) resigned from the Army in 1854 
and became a member of the influential San Francisco law firm of Halleck, 
Peachy, & Billings. During the Civil War he was commissioned a major 
general and succeeded JCF in command of the Department of Missouri. 
From 23 July 1862 to 9 March 1864 he was military adviser to President 
Lincoln, with the anomalous title of general-in-chief. His fellow officer Wil- 
liam Horace Warner, who had come to California with Kearny, was killed 
by Indians in Sept. 1849 while surveying in the Sierra Nevada. 


198. Fremont to J. J. Abert 

Monterey, California 
May 29. 1847 

I have drawn on you, under this date for $924.63/100 in favor of 
Talbot H. Green on account of advances made by him for suppHes to 
the Exploring Company, under my command, w^hich please honor 
and charge to Your most Obedient Servant, 

}. C. Fremont 
Lt. Col. U. S. A. 

Col. J. J. Abert 

Chief of the Topographical Bureau 
City of Washington 
District of Columbia 

ALS, RC (DNA-77, LR). Endorsed: "Reed. Sep. 27th. 1847." 

199. J. J. Abert to Fremont 

Bureau of Topogl. Engs. 
Washington June 11. 1847. 

Your letter of the 5th February '47^ by Mr. Talbott^ has been duly 

Eight drafts drawn by you upon this Bureau, each for 500 dollars, 
have been accepted and paid, and a ninth draft for 1500 dollars has 
been accepted, and will also be paid on maturity, making a total of 
5500 dollars (of drafts from California). 

It is to be regretted that you have not had an opportunity of trans- 
mitting any vouchers of your expenditures, as you are thereby placed 
in the attitude of delayed settlements.'' The enclosed copy of the law 
on this subject, and of a late regulation, will apprise you of the 
necessity of exertions in these respects. We are obliged to report de- 
linquents under this law, but your situation, and the extreme diffi- 


culty if not impossibility that you could transmit accounts and 
vouchers, have always been received by the President as an adequate 
explanation. I have advised Mr. Talbott to hand in whatever vouch- 
ers he may have, on your account, as this could be considered a 
rendering of accounts under the law, and would prevent the neces- 
sity of future explanations for some time to come. 

Although no official information has been received of your accep- 
tance of the appointment of Lt. Colonel of the Rifles, yet as well from 
your letter of the 5th February as from other sources it is not doubted 
that you have accepted. It would probably under such circumstances 
be agreeable to you to be relieved as far as practicable from the re- 
sponsibilities of your former position. You are therefore authorized 
to deliver to Lieut Warner of the Corps of Topographical Engineers 
any instruments or other public property belonging to this Bureau, 
and under your care, taking his duplicate receipts for the same, 
one of which on being transmitted to this office will acquit you of 
existing responsibility on this account. 

The Bureau will be glad to receive the results of the observations 
of your late tour, promised in your letter of the 5th February. Re- 
spectfully Sir Your Obt. Servt. 

(Signed) }. J. Abert 
Col. Corps T. E. 

Lbk (DNA-77, LS, 10:125-26). 

1. JCF's letter of 5 Feb. 1847 is registered as having been received but is 
no longer present. A summary of the letter accompanying the register entry, 
and the copy of a letter of J. J. Abert to Robert Campbell, indicate that JCF 
had informed Abert that he had closed his connection with the Topographical 
Bureau as of 30 Sept. 1846, "when in consequence of my position being trans- 
ferred to the military the men enlisted by me for Topographical Service were 
either discharged or enHsted in the U. S. Military Service." He had empowered 
Theodore Talbot to settle his accounts. He also promised to furnish the results 
of his expedition as soon as possible. The eight drafts of $500 to which Abert 
refers seem to have been drawn in favor of Thomas Oliver Larkin (Register 
of Letters Received by the Topographical Bureau; Abert to Robert Campbell, 
4 June 1847, DNA-77, LS, 10:121-22). 

2. Traveling with Christopher Carson, Edward F. Beale of the Navy, 
and R. Eugene Russell (son of JCF's secretary of state), Talbot had left 
California on 25 Feb. with dispatches for Washington. Their route was by 
way of Santa Fe and St. Louis {Missouri Republican, 17 May 1847). For the 
first twenty days out of California, Beale, who was very ill, had to be lifted 
on and off his horse by Carson (carson, 116-17). Beale delivered his com- 
muniques at the Navy Department on 31 May, and Talbot his at the Topo- 
graphical Bureau on 3 June. On 7 June JBF, accompanied by Carson, called 
on President Polk and delivered JCF's long 3 Feb. letter addressed to Benton. 


In his diary Polk wrote, "Mrs. Fremont seemed anxious to elicit from me 
some expression of approbation of her husband's conduct, but I evaded 
I making any J." He confided to his journal that he considered JCF "greatly 
in the wrong" for refusing to obey the orders issued by Kearny, who the 
president thought was also right in his controversy with Stockton, but he 
hoped the matter would pass over quickly without the necessity of an in- 
vestigation by a court-martial. In the evening the president saw Carson a 
second time and had a "full conversation" with him on the state of affairs 
in California, "especially in relation to the collision between the land and 
naval commanders." On 14 June Carson called on the president again with 
JBF, who expressed a desire that her husband be retained in California (polk, 
3:52, 54, 61). The next day Carson left for California with dispatches for 
Kearny and the commander of the Pacific Squadron. On the day of his de- 
parture, 15 June 1847, a long article appeared in the Washington Daily 
Union, based not upon a personal interview but on a "description of this 
singular man" provided by "a gentleman, who had seen much of Car- 
son. . . . 

3. On 3 July 1847 Abert wrote the Third Auditor that Talbot had deposited 
in the Bureau of Topographical Engineers vouchers for payments in the 
amount of $9,923.48 made by JCF on his third expedition. The chief of the 
bureau likewise noted that Robert Campbell of St. Louis was acting as JCF's 
agent in paying claims (Abert to Peter Hagner, DNA-77, LS, 10:151). 

200. James Buchanan to Fremont 


Washington 11 June 1847 
My dear Sir, 

I have received your despatch of the 6th February last & referred 
it to the Secretary of War. 

It may be proper to explain to you the reason why this was done. 
The civil government of California is at present but a mere emana- 
tion from the war making power. It rests upon military authority 
alone & as such is justified from necessity under the law of nations. 
It is temporary in its character & has never yet been recognized by 
Congress. Under these circumstances the Secretary of War is the ap- 
propriate channel through which the military Governor should ad- 
dress the President. This, you have doubtless long since learned from 
the President's message of December last. 

I regret exceedingly the controversy which has arisen between 
General Kearney & Commodore Stockton. We are all very sorry 


that you have been involved in it. We doubt not, however, that all 
difficulties were terminated on the receipt in California of the orders 
issued by the Secretary of the Navy to Commodore Stockton of the 
5th November last & those of General Scott to General Kearney of the 
3d of the same month. From their date, you will at once perceive 
that these instructions were founded upon general principles, & 
could not possibly have had a personal application to yourself as 
Governor, General Scott directs General Kearney to consult your 
wishes in regard to your return home & not to detain you "a moment 
longer than the necessities of the service may require." I need not 
say that this was intended in kindness to yourself. 

Your military career in California has increased your high repu- 
tation & the President had evinced his sense of your previous services 
by your appointment as Lieutenant Colonel. Your course must be 
onward & you have a bright future before you. 

I was much pleased with Carson. He will return to you a second 
lieutenant in the Rifle Regiment.^ I suggested the propriety of his 
appointment to the President & Secretary of War & they acceded to it 
without a moment's hesitation. 

It is scarcely possible to form any opinion in regard to the conduct 
of Mexico. I should not be astonished to hear any day that a Treaty 
of peace has been concluded, & I shall not be much disappointed 
should the war continue for years to come. Chaos reigns supreme in 
that ill fated country. Its government is that of a military despotism 
without its stability. It is perpetually changing according to the inter- 
est or caprice of the army but never grows better. Until this corrupt 
army shall be destroyed, there can be no hope of deliverance for the 
people. On a small scale, it enacts the part of the Pretorian Guards. 

I shall not give you any family news, because I know Carson will 
take this to you in abundance from the fountain head. 

With the most sincere wishes for your health and prosperity, I 
remain very respectfully your friend, 

Colonel Fremont. 

AL, SC (PHi — Buchanan Papers). The endorsement conveys the informa- 
tion that the letter was being carried to JCF by Lieutenant Carson. 

1. The Senate refused to confirm the appointment, and although Carson 
heard of its rejection in Santa Fe, he continued on to California to deliver 
the dispatches (carson, 121). 


201. Jessie B. Fremont to Fremont 

[ca. 14 June 1847] 
My dear husband: 

Kit Carson is waiting to take a letter to you. Nothing I can say 
will express in the littlest degree the love and yearning in my heart 
— the grief that I cannot be with you. It hurts too much even to 
write. Besides, I would not make you unhappy by my repining. Kit 
will tell you everything. 1 am sending you myself — in miniature. I 
lay with it over my heart last night. I pray you wear it over yours 
until le bon temps viendra. Your devoted wife, 


Printed in phillips, 116. Catherine Coffin Phillips cites the letter as being 
in the Fremont Papers, location undesignated. The Bancroft Library, the 
logical depository, has no record of it (WiUiam M. Roberts to Mary Lee 
Spence, 26 May 1971). Apparently the miniature Jessie sent JCF was the one 
painted by John Wood Dodge in the winter of 1845. 

202. Thomas H. Benton to Roger Jones 

St. Louis, June 14, 1847 
To the Adjutant General: 

I enclose you a printed article cut from the Missouri Republican of 
this day's date, (marked A,)^ containing accusations against Lieut. 
Col. Fremont, which, if true, will require him to be cashiered. I do 
not believe they are true; but justification is not to rest upon belie]; 
and as he cannot remain in the army with such accusations against 
him, and is not here to attend to his own justification, it becomes my 
duty to attend to it for him, and to ask his immediate recall, and a 
general court martial upon him. 

The writer of the article enclosed (marked A) is , and I 

give his name as a witness to justify the arrest of Lieut. Col. Fre- 
mont, and to be examined on his trial. 

I also enclose you printed articles (marked B and C) to the same 


effect, the former from the Louisville Journal" and the latter from 
the New Orleans Picayune,^ founded upon reports given out by 
Major W. H. Emory, late Lieutenant of Topographical Engineers; 
upon which also I ask the immediate arrest and trial of Lieut. Col. 
Fremont, and give the name of the said Major Emory as a witness to 
prove the charges in the papers B and C, and to justify his immediate 
recall, arrest, and trial. 

It is not necessary to acknowledge the receipt of the. communica- 
tion to me at this place, as I shall soon be in Washington to give the 
subject a personal attention. 

Requesting that you will lay this communication immediately be- 
fore the President and Secretary at War for their decision, I have the 
honor to be, sir, yours, most respectfully, 

Thomas H. Benton 

P. S. When the foregoing was written I expected the editor of the 
paper (Missouri Republican) to insert the name of the writer of the 
article (A) in the blank left for that purpose. After taking time for 
reflection, he declifies to do so.*' I have therefore to say that the last 
paragraph of the communication, seeming to exclude all the officers 
at San Diego but the two arriving with the Mormon battalion after 
the events, the question of authorship is narrowed down to those two; 
and as one of them, to wit, Capt. Smith, of the dragoons, has con- 
nexions and correspondents in this city, I feel authorized to name 
him as the writer, and as the witness to be summoned. But, anxious 
to do Capt. Smith no wrong, I shall have this statement submitted to 
the editor for his contradiction, if the truth permits it to be contra- 

T. H. B. 

*I showed this postscript, as well as the letter to which it is ap- 
pended, to Mr. A. B. Chambers, the editor of the Missouri Republi- 
can, and he replied that he neither affirmed nor denied that Capt. 
Smith was the author. 

Robert Campbell 

*Republican Office, 
St. Louis, June 15, 1847 

On reflection, I must decline giving the name of the author of the 


communication which appeared in the Republican of yesterday in 
relation to the events in California. Yours, respectfully, 

A. B. Chambers 
Col. R. Campbell 

Printed in National Intelligencer, 25 Nov. 1847. Not found in DNA. How- 
ever, on 24 Aug. 1847 (Doc. No. 209) Roger Jones acknowledged that his 
office had received Benton's 14 June letter and referred it to the Secretary of 
War. Benton and William C. Jones gave a copy of the letter to the editors 
of the National Intelligencer following the court-martial session on 24 Nov. 
Benton noted for the benefit of the public that he had revoked at the War 
Office the name of Captain Smith as the author of the article in the Missouri 
Republican, substituting that of Maj. Philip St. George Cooke. 

1. The article from the Missouri Republican, 14 June 1847, is in CT. 
MARTIAL, 129-33. In court JCF wanted to ask Cooke if he were its author, but 
the court ruled that the question could not be put (ct. martial, 133). 

2. For the article from the Louisville Journal, see enclosure in Fremont to 
Jones, 27 Sept. 1847, Doc. No. 221. 

3. The newspaper article from the New Orleans Picayune, 22 April 1847, 
is in CT. martial, 169-71. 

203. Fremont to Stephen Watts Kearny 

New Helvetia, Upper California 

June 14, 1847 

In a communication which I received from yourself, in March of 
the present year, I am informed that you had been directed by the 
commander-in-chief not to detain me in this country against my 
wishes, longer than the absolute necessities of the service might re- 

Private letters, in which I have entire confidence, further inform 
me that the President has been pleased to direct that I should be per- 
mitted the choice of joining my regiment in Mexico, or returning 
directly to the United States. An application which I had the honor 
to make to you at the Ciudad de los Angeles, for permission to pro- 
ceed immediately to Mexico, having been rejected,^ and the duties 
of the exploring expedition, which had been confided to my direc- 
tion, having been terminated by yourself, I respectfully request that 


Thomas Hart Benton. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. 


I may now be relieved of all connexion with the topographical 
party, which you have taken under your charge, and be permitted to 
return to the United States. Travelling with a small party by a direct 
route, my knowledge of the country and freedom from professional 
business, will enable me to reach the States some forty or fifty days 
earlier than yourself, which the present condition of affairs and a 
long absence from my family make an object of great importance to 

It may not be improper to say to you that my journey will be made 
with private means, and will not therefore, occasion any expenditure 
to the government. I have the honor to be, with much respect, your 
obedient servant, 

J. C. Fremont, 
Lieut. Colonel, mounted rifles 
Brigadier-General S. W. Kearney, 
Commanding western army, 
Nueva Helvetia, Upper California 

Printed in ct. martial, 280-81. 

1. JCF had applied to Kearny for permission to join General Taylor's army 
in Mexico about 10 or 11 May, and the defense in the court-martial implied 
that he had 120 picked horses and 60 men ready to go, with pinoli and dried 
beef for their support (ct. martial, 103). 

204. Stephen Watts Kearny to Fremont 

Camp Near New Helvetia, (California,) 

June 14, 1847 

The request contained in your communication to me of this date, 
to be relieved from all connection with the topographical party 
(nineteen men) and be permitted to return to the United States with 
a small party made up by your private means, cannot be granted. 

I shall leave here on Wednesday, the 16th instant, and I require of 
you to be with your topographical party in my camp (which will 
probably be fifteen miles from here) on the evening of that day, and 


to continue with me to Missouri/ Very respectfully, your obedient 

S. W. Kearney. 
Br igad ier-General 
Lieut. Col. Fremont, 
Regiment mounted riflemen, New Helvetia 

Printed in ct. martial, 281. 

1. JCF made two later requests to leave Kearny's command. After crossing 
the Sierra Nevada in 1847, he applied for permission to go directly through 
the Great Basin to the States in order to complete and correct his 1845 route 
to California, which had passed south of the Great Salt Lake. He sent Kearny 
a sketch showing that such a route would cut approximately 400 miles from 
the one Kearny was traveling, and that mapping it would be advantageous to 
future travelers and emigrants. Again, at Fort Laramie, JCF asked to return 
with his topographical party to the Missouri frontier by a shorter route than 
the one by Fort Leavenworth. This request was also denied (ex. martial, 

205. Richard B. Mason to Roger Jones 

Head Quarters, 10th Mily. Dept. 
Monterey, Cala. June 21, 1847 

An opportunity offering to San Francisco, I send ofT this letter in 
the hopes that it will overtake my despatch to you of the 18th inst. 
at that place, and that both will reach you at the same time. 

A claim has today been presented to me against the United States 
of so extraordinary a nature, that I deem it proper to send it to you 
for the information of the Department.^ 

You will perceive it is for money borrowed at an enormous rate of 
interest by Lt. Col. Fremont from one Antonio Jose Cot, and that 
too in the official character of Governor of California, when he knew 
that General Kearny his superior and commanding officer was here 
in the country. 

In the same manner the Lt. Col. gave orders and caused the collec- 
tor of customs at San Pedro, to receive in payment of custom house 


dues, a large amount, say about $1700.00 of depreciated paper signed 
by individuals in no way responsible to the government. 

Genl. Kearny has gone home prepared to lay all the facts attend- 
ing that transaction before the War Department. 

The object that I now have in view is to request that Lt. Col. Fre- 
mont may be required to refund immediately the seventeen hundred 
dollars that the Treasury of California has thus lost by his illegal 
order. The money is wanted to defray the expense of the civil de- 
partment in this country. I am Respectfully Your Obt. Servt. 

Richard B. Mason 
Brig. Genl. R. Jones 
Adjt. Genl. U. S. A. 
Washington, D. C. 

LS, RC (DNA-94, M-1113 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Endorsed: "Respect- 
fully submitted. R. Jones, A. G. Nov. 16th." 

1. The enclosure — Fremont to Antonio Jose Cot, 4 Feb. 1847, Doc. No. 
133 — is not reproduced here. 

206. Thomas H. Benton to Fremont 

St. Louis, June 22. 1847 
My dear Sir, 

I have written you fully on the points which concern your public 
conduct,^ and add this note in relation to Jessie Ann & little Lilly. 
Be under no uneasiness about either of them ; they are both my chil- 
dren, & will share all my cares and affections equally with the rest. 
They are both exceedingly well, and have no want but that of your 
return. Lilly is one of the finest children in the world, every way, in 
mind, temper, and behaviour. No child could be a more universal 
favorite. Mrs. Benton's health has been greatly impaired by a para- 
lytic attack, but it leaves her without any sign of paralysis except 
weakness & some defect of memory and of speech. The rest are all 
well, Ran" pursuing his studies under a clergyman in Kentucky. 

I added steam power to the Saw [ ?], which works regularly & suc- 
cessfully. Yours truly & sincerely, 

Thomas H. Benton 



1. Benton's letter has not been found. 

2. A reference to John Randolph Benton, JBF's seventeen-year-old brother. 
He had accompanied JCF on his 1842 expedition as far as Fort Laramie. 
"Ran" did not pursue his studies long; by 25 Oct. he was in President Polk's 
office requesting a lieutenancy in the Army. When refused, he left in an 
outburst of passion and profanity (polk, 3:201-3). Not only was the young 
man a family problem, but he also suffered from ill health and died in 1852, 
having been received into the Catholic church by Father Pierre-Jean de Smet 
(chambers, 388-89). 


The Arrest and 
Court-Martial of Fremont 

207. Stephen Watts Kearny's Order for 
the Arrest of Fremont 

Fort Leavenworth 
August 22d. 1847 

1st. Lieut Col. Fremont of the Regt. of Mounted Riflemen will 
turn over to the officers of the different Departments at this Post 
the Horses, mules & other Public property in the use of the 
Topo. Party now under his charge, for which receipts will be 
given. He will arrange the accounts of those men (19 in num- 
ber) so that they can be paid at the earliest possible date. Lieut 
Col. Fremont having performed the above duty, will consider 
himself under arrest & will then repair to Washington City & 
report himself to the Adjutant General of the Army. 

DS (DNA-94, LR, K-205 1847, f/w K-209 1846). Endorsed: "Respectfully 
laid before the Sec. of War. No charges accompany this order of arrest. R. 
Jones, AG, Sepr. 7th. Returned Sept. 25." JCF was handed a copy of the 
arrest order in the presence of Lieut. Col. Clifton Wharton, commanding at 
Fort Leavenworth (ex. martial, 114-15), 


208. Thomas H. Benton to Roger Jones 

Washington City, Aug. 22cl. 1847 
To the Adjt. Genl. 

I reduce to writing for the purpose of being filed with the papers 
of the case what I said to you in person a few days ago, that believing 
it to be probable, as reported, that Genl. Kearny has arrested Lt. Col. 
Fremont in California and ordered him home for trial, I do not now 
ask for a decision on my application to have him ordered home for 
arrest and trial ; but if it should be found that he is not so arrested & 
ordered home, then my application remains in full force. Yours re- 

Thomas H. Benton. 

ALS, RC (DNA-94, LR, B-766 1847). First endorsement: "Remar\s: 
[The papers in this case (whatever they may be) must have been addressed 
to the Sec. of War, as they have not been seen by the Adjut. General, &c. 
The wishes of Col. Benton shall be attended to whenever the occasion offers.] 
Reed. August 23d. R. Jones, AG." Second endorsement: "Col. Benton sent 
for my perusal today, a letter he has just reed, from Genl. Kearny, dated 
Monterey, March 17th from the tone of which he now believes that the report 
of the arrest of Lieut. Col. Fremont, is incorrect. I am very confident myself 
that there is no truth in the Report, as I informed Col. Benton a few days 
ago. R. Jones, AG, August 24th. Respectfully laid before the Sec. of War. 
R. Jones, Aug. 24." Third endorsement: "Note: I find that I am mistaken: 
The papers in the case' (Col. Benton's letter to the Adt. Genl. of June 14) 
were reed. June 25 when I was in New York & were immediately delivered 
to the Sec. of War, of which I knew nothing until within the last half hour. 
R. Jones. 2 o'clock. August 24th." Fourth endorsement: "Retd. 27 Aug. 1847 
with 543 — Respectfully laid before the Sec. of War, with Col. Benton's pre- 
vious letter of June 14th. R. Jones, Sept. 14th. 1847." Fifth endorsement: 
"Copy of the letter furnished to Lt. Col. Fremont, Mounted Riflemen, Sept. 
28, 1847. See letter to him, dated Sept. 27th." 

209. Roger Jones to Thomas H. Benton 

A. G. O. Washington, August 24. 1847 


I acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 22d. last evening, 
referring to the case of Lieut Col. Fremont, and will with pleasure 
give the desired attention to the subject. 

Your letter of June 14th was received the 25th of that month, in 
my absence on duty in the City of New York, and was on the same 
day laid before the Secretary of War by Major Freeman/ 

General Kearny's unofficial note to you from Monterey of March 
17, which you did me the honor to send to-day for my perusal, con- 
firms, I am glad to think the previous opinion entertained, that 
Lieutenant Colonel Fremont has not been arrested by the General, 
&c. I am Sir, &c. &c. 

R. Jones 

Lbk (DNA-94,LS, 24:152). 

1. Bvt. Maj. William Grigsby Freeman (d. 1866) was Assistant Adjutant 
General (heitman). 

210. Fremont to the Citizens of St. Louis 

St. Louis, August 30th, 1847 

I had the pleasure this morning to receive your letter of this date, 
in which, with many kind assurances of welcome and congratula- 
tions on my return,^ you honor with the strong expression of your 
approbation, my geographical labors during the recent explorations 
in Oregon and North California, and the military operations in 
which sudden emergencies involved me in California. 

I beg you to receive my earnest acknowledgments for the very fa- 
vorable notice you have bestowed upon the published results of those 
expeditions, and I regret that events which interrupted and more 
recent circumstances which abruptly terminated the last explora- 
tion, will permit me to give only a brief and imperfect account 
of California and of the intervening basin, which it had been the 
great object of the expedition to explore and determine. 

The labor of many years in the interest of science, undertaken and 
sustained with only a distant hope of gaining your good opinion, 
has received, in the rapid progress of events, an earlier reward than 
I could possibly have hoped for or anticipated; but I am free to say 
that the highest pleasure I received from the perusal of your letter 


was derived from your decided approval of my political course in 
North California. Circumstances there made us, in connection with 
the emigrants to that country, involuntary witnesses and unwilling 
actors at the birth of a great nation ; but to which we now consider it 
our great good fortune to have aided in securing the blessings of 
peace with civil and religious liberty. 

Placed in a critical and delicate position, where imminent danger 
urged immediate action, and where the principal difficulty lay in 
knowing full well what must be done; where, in a struggle barely 
for the right to live, every effort to secure our safety involved un- 
usual and grave responsibilities, I could only hope from your for- 
bearance a suspension of judgment, until, with full possession of 
facts, you would be able to determine understandingly. 

I had the gratification on my arrival to find that neither remote- 
ness of situation nor the more immediately important and interest- 
ing events at home had diverted your attention from our conduct, 
but that from a knowledge only of the leading occurrences in Cali- 
fornia, it had been fully and completely justified and sustained. 

I regret that, under present circumstances, I cannot have the plea- 
sure of meeting you at the dinner which you have done me the 
honor to offer me, but I beg you to accept the assurances of the high 
and grateful sense which I entertain of your kindness and regard, 
and of the very flattering manner in which you have expressed it. 

With sentiments of respect and consideration, I am, gentlemen, 
your very obedient servant, 

}. C. Fremont 

Printed in National Intelligencer, 23 Sept. 1847. Although JCF decUned 
the public dinner, he did receive his friends at the residence of Col. Joshua 
B. Brant the next day between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. {Missouri Republican, 31 
Aug. 1847). 

1. JCF, who had been absent two and a half years, had been greeted by 
his wife, made anxious by the rumors that he was being brought east under 
arrest. Twenty-four-year-old Jessie had gone up the Missouri River to the 
town of Kansas (Kansas City), Mo., to spend "some weary days of suspense" 
in a log cabin, stifling in the late summer heat. With a flair for the dramatic, 
she later recorded that meeting and the changes in her husband. 

"The years and the experiences of those years of great events had made 
their telling mark on Mr. Fremont and he was still further changed by his 
dress, the unfamiliar Spanish riding dress of Californians. But the great 
change was in the stern set look of endurance and self control which the 
past few months had forced upon him; and with it a silent repressed storm 
of feeling which entirely dominated his old, light-hearted courtesy and 
thought for others. He had not thought to meet me up there and could not 


recover himself instantly from the long indignation of the return journey 
and the crowning insult that morning at Fort Leavenworth where, after 
leaving him waiting outside while Kearny and his officers were being wel- 
comed by the resident officers, he was summoned within to be put under 

"I only knew of this from his faithful men. Himself he could not put it 
into speech. I saw the need for silence, but when under pretext of looking 
after the men and horses, Mr. Fremont escaped from notice into the coming 
night, Godey told me of the astounding conduct of General Kearny. 'But 
now,' he said, 'we have seen the Colonel safe home — we would not trust him 
with Kearny. We were not under Kearny's orders — the prairies were free and 
we came along to watch over the Colonel — he's safe now!' " ("Great Events 
during the Life of Major General John C. Fremont," pp. 51-52, CU-B). 

211. Thomas H. Benton to F. R. Conway 

Blue Lick (Ky.) Sept. 3d, 1847 
Dear Sir: 

I thank you for your note of the 19th ult. and the paper enclosed. 
If the article to which you called my attention merely concerned 
myself, I should leave it to do its office, without saying a word to 
lessen or impair its force; but as the design is to injure Col. Fremont, 
by representing me as preferring charges against him, and becoming 
his prosecutor, merely to obtain sham acquittal, I think proper to 
say, (and to give you leave to publish it) that 1 have preferred no 
charges against Col. Fremont, and have not become his prosecutor, 
but that I did send to the war office the charges made against him by 
others, and gave the name of the supposed writers as witnesses to 
prove what they wrote, at the same time expressing my disbelief of 
their truth, and asking a court martial. An article from the Missouri 
Republicafj was one of those so sent. Nothing was added to them, or 
taken from them. The charges were sent exactly as published, and 
were the charges of the publishers and writers, not mine; and it is 
they who are to be summoned to prove them. They (the writers and 
publishers) will be summoned, and all other witnesses that they 
want summoned, and all the charges tried which they have preferred, 
or shall prefer, or which any other person shall prefer. The trial 
which I have asked for is intended to be a real one, and not a "farce," 
or a "white was hi fig," as the editor of the Republican supposes. It 
shall cover everything imputed, or to be imputed against Col. Fre- 


mont; and his accusers shall all be witnesses. If, under these circum- 
stances, it becomes a "farce, and a whitewashing affair," the fault 
will be their own. 

I am here with Mrs. Benton, for the benefit of her health, which is 
such as not to admit of my leaving her to go on to Missouri this fall. 
This must be my apology to my southern friends, whom I expected 
to visit this month. Yours, very truly and respectfully, 

Thomas H. Benton 

Printed in Washington Daily Union, 17 Sept. 1847, from the St. Louis 
Reveille. Frederick Rector Conway, a long-time resident of St. Louis, was a 
nephew of Gen. William Rector. 

212. Thomas H. Benton to James K. Polk 


Woodford Co., Ken. 
Sep. 10. 1847 
Dear Sir: 

I have had full conversations with Col. Fremont, and am certain 
that the public interest & the future welfare of California requires 
that the government should have a full knowledge of everything that 
has been done there, and that such knowledge is necessary to en- 
able it to do justly between individuals, and, what is more, act 
safely for the future welfare of the province. Without going into 
particulars I can say that you ought to know things which have hap- 
pened, & that you can only know them authentically through the 
court martial on Col. F., or at least, a court of inquiry. 

Col. F. cannot give you information, while charges hang over 
him; and besides, he wants every thing judicially brought out. He is 
a party concerned, and wishes proof alone to decide everything. 
Military etiquette will not even allow him to call to pay his respects 
to you while he is in a state of arrest, and I know of no means except 
his trial which can give you the information which you ought to 
possess, and that with as little delay as possible. I would not write 
thus if I was not convinced that the public interest and the future 
welfare of California require you to know all that has happened. 


Col. F. will be urgent for a court martial, or at all events for a court 
of inquiry, and that not merely on his own account, but for the 
higher & nobler object of giving information to the government 
which it ought to possess. Respectfully, Sir, your friend and fellow 

Thomas H. Benton 

ALS, RC (DLC— Polk Papers). 


213. Albert Gallatin to Fremont 

New York 15 Sept. 1847 

I am now preparing a recapitulation of the extent of our knowl- 
edge of the languages of the Indians within the United States, and of 
the geographical features of the country they occupy, including also 
Oregon, California the great interior basin or California desert and 
the territory drained by the Rio Colorado of California.^ 

In the explanatory map annexed to that essay, you have of course 
been my guide for all that fell within your personal knowledge. 
You circumnavigated, if I may use the expression, the western, south- 
ern and eastern boundaries of the great interior basin, or California 
desert; but you are silent respecting its northern limit, which I pre- 
sume to about lat. 41°. You would confer a great obligation on me 
by communicating correct information respecting the route, or routes, 
from Fort Hall on Snake river, through the desert, to the settlements 
in California. Permit me to state the various points, concerning 
which I am most desirous of being enlightened. 

Is there but one place at which, on leaving California, the Sierra 
Nevada can be crossed ? and is the point of departure from the river 
Joaquin, or from the Sacramento ? 

There is much discrepancy in the manuscript or printed maps 
within my reach, respecting the water courses, having no issue to the 
sea, which are occasionally found in or near the route of the emi- 
grants, through the Desert. 

In Farnhams map, on which I place but little reliance, a water 
course, called Marys river, is laid down more than one hundred 


miles long, running from northeast to southwest, terminating in a 
lake, the southern extremity of which is placed a few minutes north 
of lat. 38° and in long. 118°. 

Newspaper accounts state, that, on your last journey you returned 
by the way of the Trucky or Salmon trout river. 

In a manuscript map prepared in the year 1831 under the direction 
of General Ashley, a water course, called Budger's [Bridger's] Fork, 
is laid down running from east to west in lat. 41°, from a point 
nearly due south of Fort Hall to long. 118°. From this point the 
Fork is made to run due north and to unite with the Owyhee river. 
This was an erroneous conjecture; and it appears to have been since 
ascertained, that Budger's Fork has no issue to the sea and terminates 
in a lake or is lost in the sands. A short account of your return jour- 
ney will throw a new light on the subject and settle those questions.^ 

I have not the honor of a personal acquaintance with you and do 
not wish to be indiscreet, or to encroach on your time and avoca- 
tions. I will be grateful for any information which, without trespass- 
ing on these, you may be pleased to communicate. 

I pray you to accept the assurance of my distinguished considera- 
tion and have the honour to be Your most obedient servant, 

Col J C Fremont 

AL, SC (NHi). 

1. For years Gallatin had exhibited an intense interest in ethnology and 
western U.S. geography. He had advised Jefferson in the planning of the 
Lewis and Clark expedition in 1803. A generation later he had planned a 
significant essay and map, "A Synopsis of the Indian Tribes within the 
United States East of the Rocky Mountains," Transactions of the American 
Antiquarian Society (1836), vol. 2. 

2. Gallatin referred to this map, produced from the data of Jedediah S. 
Smith, in a later publication in Transactions of the American Ethnological 
Society, 2 (1848):xxxvii: "J. S. Smith was no writer. We have nothing from 
him but the track of his routes, and a few scattered notes, incorporated in a 
manuscript Map prepared under the direction of the late General Ashley, 
Charles de Ward draughtsman, 1831." We have not located the map or 
identified the draftsman. It is not clear what river he is here calling Bridger's 
Fork. c. I. WHEAT, 2:136, assumed it was the Bruneau River, rising in south- 
west Idaho and meeting the Snake eighteen miles southwest of Mountain 


214. Fremont to Ro^^er Jones 

C. Street, Washington City, Sep. 17th. 1847 

To the Adjutant General, 

According to the orders of Brigadier General Kearny, I have the 
honor to report myself to you in person, in a state of arrest, and to 
make the following requests: 

1. A copy of the charges filed against me by the said General. 

2. A copy of the orders under which the said General brought 
back from California to the United States myself and the topo- 
graphical party of which I formerly had the command. 

3. A copy of the communications from Senator Benton asking for 
my arrest and trial on the charges made in the newspapers 
against me, and which application from him I adopt and make 
my own. 

4. That charges and specifications, in addition to those filed by 
General Kearny be made out in form against me on all the 
newspaper publications which have come, or shall come to the 
knowledge of the office, and on all other information oral or 

5. That I may have a trial as soon as the witnesses now in the 
United States can be got to Washington, for although the testi- 
mony of the voice of California, through some of its most 
respectable inhabitants is essential to me, and also that of Com- 
modore Stockton, who has not yet arrived from that province, 
yet I will not wish the delay of waiting for these far distant 
witnesses, and will go into trial on the testimony now in the 
United States, part of which is in the State of Missouri, and may 
require thirty days to get it to Washington. I therefore ask for a 
trial at the end of that time. 

These requests I have the honor to make, and hope they will be 
found to be just, and will be granted. I wish a full trial, and a speedy 
one. The charges against me by Brigadier General Kearny, and the 
subsidiary accusations made against me in newspapers, when I was 
not in this country, impeach me in all the departments of my con- 
duct, (military, civil, political, and moral,) while I was in California, 
and if true would subject me to be cashiered and shot under the rules 


and articles of war, and to infamy in the public opinion. It is my 
intention to meet these charges and accusations in all their extent; 
and for that purpose to ask a trial upon every point of allegation or 
insinuation against me, waiving all objections to forms and techni- 
calities, and allowing the widest range to all possible testimony. 
These charges and accusations are so general and extensive as to 
cover the whole field of my operations in California, both civil and 
military, from the beginning to the end of hostilities, and as my 
operations, and those of which I was the subject or object extend to 
almost every act and event which occurred in the country during the 
eventful period of these hostilities the testimony on my trial will be 
the history of the conquest of California, and the exposition of the 
policy which has been heretofore pursued there, and the elucidation 
of that which should be followed hereafter. It will be the means of 
giving valuable information to the Government, which it might not 
otherwise be able to obtain, and thus enlighten it, both with respect 
to the past and the future. Being a military subordinate, I can make 
no reports, not even of my own operations ; but my trial may become 
a report, and bring to the knowledge of what it ought to know, not 
only with respect to the conduct of its officers, but also in regard to 
the policy observed, or necessary to be observed with regard to the 
three fold population (Spanish Americans, Anglo Americans, and 
aboriginal Americans) which that remote province contains. Viewed 
under these aspects of public interest, my own personal concern in 
the trial, already sufficiently grave acquires an additional and public 
importance, and for these high objects as well as to vindicate my own 
character from accusations both capital, and infamous, it is my inten- 
tion to require and to promote the most searching examination into 
every thing that has been done in that quarter. 

The public mind has become impressed with the belief that great 
misconduct has prevailed in California, and, in fact, it would be 
something rare in the history of remote conquests and governments, 
where every petty commander might feel himself invested with pro- 
consular authoritv, and protected by distance from the supervision 
of his government, if nothing wrong or culpable has been done by 
the public agents of the United States in that remote province. The 
public believes it; and the charges filed against me by Brigadier Gen- 
eral Kearny — the subsidiary publications made against me whilst I 
was not in this country— my arrest on the frontier, and the premoni- 
tory rumors of that event— the manner of my being brought home 


for trial, not in irons as some newspapers suppose, but in chains 
stronger than iron, and with circumstances of ostentatious and gall- 
ing degradation — have all combined to present me as the great male- 
factor, and the sole one. 

Heretofore I have said nothing, and could have said nothing, in 
my own defence. I was ignorant of all that was going on against me 
— ignorant of the charges sent from California, — ignorant of the in- 
tended arrest, and of the subsidiary publications to prejudice the 
public mind. What was published in the United States in my favor, 
by my friends, was done upon their own view of things here, and of 
which I knew nothing. It was only on my arrival on the frontier of 
the United States that I became acquainted with these things, which 
concerned me so nearly. Brought home by General Kearny, and 
marched in his rear, I did not know of his design to arrest me until 
the moment of its execution at Fort Leavenworth. He then in- 
formed me, that among the charges which he had preferred were 
mutiny, disobedience of orders, assumption of powers, &c. and re- 
ferred me to your office for particulars. Accordingly I now apply for 
them; and ask for a full and speedy trial, not only on the charges 
filed by the said General, but on all accusations contained in the pub- 
lications against me. 

The private calamity^ which has this evening obtained for me per- 
mission from the Department to visit South Carolina, does not cre- 
ate any reason for postponement or delay of the trial, or in any 
way interfere with the necessary preliminaries. 

Hoping then, Sir, that you will obtain and communicate to me an 
early decision of the proper authorities on these requests, I remain 
your most obedient servant. 

J. C. Fremont, 
Lieut. Col. Mounted Rifles 

ALS, RC (DNA-94, LR, F-212 1847). Also printed in the Washington 
Daily Union, 18 Sept. 1847, and the National Intelligencer, 20 Sept. 1847. 
Endorsed: "Respectfully submitted to the Sec. of War. The charges preferred 
by Genl. Kearny were submitted the 13th inst. R. Jones, AG, Sept. 18th. 
See letter of Septr. 27th. R. Jones." 

1. JCF had learned of the serious illness of his mother, Ann B. Hale. 


215. Jessie B. Fremont to Albert Gallatin 

Washington City 20th Sep. 1847 

At Mr. Fremonts request I opened his letters & finding one from 
you I hasten to answer it so far as to assure you that he will take 
pride in the pleasure of contributing in any way to your materials 
for your intended work. 

When he returns from the South, which will probably be in a 
week, he will answer you at length; in the meantime I am very re- 
spectfully Sir Your &c. 

Jessie Benton Fremont 
The Hon. Albert Gallatin 

ALS, RC (NHi). Endorsed. 

216. Fremont to Ro^er Jones 

Charleston 20th September 1847 

On the eve of my departure from Washington where I remained 
but one day, (in consequence of the receipt of a letter informing me 
of the illness of my mother)^ I requested a friend to have my report 
to you published in the Union, as the best and as it seemed to me, 
the most respectful mode of answering the accusations which had 
been publicly made against me. On reflection, I fear I have been led 
to a violation of official Etiquette in such a publication without your 
permission, by my anxiety to offer some public vindication of my 

If my Report has not yet been published, I have written to prevent 
it, unless with your consent, which I now request. If it has appeared 
I must beg your acceptance of this apology for its publication & ask 
your sanction. 


I have availed myself of the first cessation of travel on my way to 
Aiken, to address you, & am very respectfully Your obedient servt. 

}. C. Fremont 
Lt. Col. U. S. A. 
Adjutant Genl. Roger Jones 
Washington City, 

LS, RC (DNA-94, LR, F-217 1847). Endorsed: "Respectfully laid before 
the Sec. of War. R. Jones, AG. See letter of Sepr. 27th. R. J." 

1. His mother died before JCF could reach Aiken, and he took the body 
to Charleston for interment (see Vol. 1, p. 11 n). 

2. The editors suspect that this is a sham repentance on JCF's part, and 
that his sending the 17 Sept. letter to the Washington Daily Union (Doc. 
No. 214) was a deliberate and considered act, perhaps prompted by advice 
from Benton. 

217. Jessie B. Fremont to Edward F. Beale 

Washington City, Sepr. 20th 1847 
My Dear Sir, 

I heard this evening that you asked for orders for the Pacific, 
which is I hope a mistake — for a selfish reason I wish your stay a 
little longer in the country. Mr. Fremonts trial will take place in a 
month & I think he wishes you as a witness to some facts. More posi- 
tively I cannot speak for he is in Charleston & not until I hear from 
him in answer to a letter I shall write tonight, can I give you a de- 
cided reason for postponing your departure. I hear with great plea- 
sure of your improved health & if you can render Mr. Fremont the 
service of remaining a month longer on land I hope to judge of your 
improvement myself. Very truly yours, 

Jessie Benton Fremont 

ALS, RC (DLC— Decatur House Papers). Edward Fitzgerald Beale (1822- 
93), a young officer aboard the Congress and the son of distinguished naval 
forebears, had been a part of Gillespie's command which joined Kearny before 
the battle of San Pasqual. He had subsequently crawled through enemy lines 
to seek aid for Kearny's battered forces. When JBF penned her plea, Beale 
had been in Washington more than three months, having been ordered east 


with dispatches by Stockton. Within the next few years Beale was to make 
several journeys from ocean to ocean, on one of them carrying the first offi- 
cial news of California gold to Washington. After his resignation from the 
Navy in 1851, he superintended briefly some of Stockton's investments in the 
Sacramento area, was superintendent of Indian affairs in California, experi- 
mented with camels as beasts of burden in the Southwest, and commanded 
the wagon survey along the thirty-fifth parallel from Fort Smith, Ark., to 
California. In the 1860s he became surveyor general of California and Nevada 
and in the 1870s minister to Austria-Hungary. For additional biographical 
details, see ringler and bonsal; the latter contains many inaccuracies. 

218. Jessie B. Fremont to James K. Polk 

[21 Sept. 1847] 
To the President, 

I enclose you this notice from the St. Louis Whig paper, the Re- 
publican,^ and after reading it you will see the manifest injustice to 
Mr. Fremont of letting his accusers escape from the investigation of 
the charges they have made against him. There is an impression 
prevalent that Genl. Kearny also is to obtain orders for Mexico, at 

You have the power to do justice & I ask it of you that Mr. Fre- 
mont be permitted to make his accusers stand the trial as well as 
himself. Do not suppose Sir, that I lightly interfere in a matter prop- 
erly belonging to men, but in the absence of Mr. Fremont I attend to 
his affairs at his request. I trust he will be returned in a week, when 
agreeably to your request he will have the honor of calling on you. 
The precarious situation of his mother & my own want of health are 
I hope a sufficient apology for not having presented myself to Mrs. 
Polk. Very respectfully yours, 

Jessie Benton Fremont 
Tuesday evening 
Sepr. 21st 1847. 

ALS, RC (DLC— Polk Papers). 

1. The notice which JBF enclosed must have been from the Missouri Re- 
publican of 13 Sept. 1847, whose editors understood that orders had been 
received from Washington directing Capt. Henry S. Turner to proceed to 
Santa Fe and Maj. Philip St. George Cooke to Mexico. The journal noted, 
"These gentlemen have just returned from California, and the sudden order 


Edward Fitzgerald Beale. From an engraving in Fremont's Memoirs. 

to proceed upon such distant service, looks as if the President did not intend 
to be in a hurry about ordering a Court Martial to investigate the charges 
against Col. Fremont." On 30 Sept. Emory was ordered to join his regiment 
in Mexico, but that was superseded by an order of 7 Oct. to be present at 
JCF's court-martial as a witness for the defense (R. Jones to Emory, 7 Oct. 
1847, DNA-94, LS, 24:228). The Adjutant General's Office informed Turner 
on 27 Sept. 1847 that he would be required as a witness for the prosecution 
(R. Jones to Kearny et al, 11 Sept. 1847, DNA-94, LS, 24:214). 

219. An Unidentified Correspondent to Fremont 

Memphis Scotland Co., Mo. Sept. 21st 1847 
Dear Friend: 

I take this opportunity to inform you I am well at present and 
hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing. I 
wrote to you at St. Louis, but I suppose you had left there before the 
letter got there. I see you went to Washington under arrest. It grieves 
me to the heart to hear of such taking place. Yes and after suffering 
as we did and after doing what you did to take the Country and that 
without money or provisions in a great measure and worse than all 
with only or about one hundred and sixty or seventy men. You 
marched from one end of California to the other only — see how after 
we had nothing but mule or horse meat to eat and without water — 
all this to carry out the object for which you was sent — seeing this 
and knowing that you was doing every thing in your power to take 
the Country and save the life of every men you had and with as little 
Expence as possible. When I was sick and the Spaniards took up 
arms the second time, I was determined to not be taken as we had 
marched through the Country without loosing a man and seeing 
you had done every thing in your power to save all your men and 
also was doing my duty as a soldier to not let them catch me but 
make my way to you if possible after seeing the interest you took in 
the welfare of your men and the good management in saving us. I 
felt that I could not be taken by consent. The Spaniards wanted me 
to give up and they would put me on parole and let me go as other 
Americans was but as a soldier this I could never submit to. I know I 
would not [have] suffered as much as I did if I had given myself up 
to them, that is, in the way of provision, and in mind, I knew it 
would trouble you to hear of one of your men falling in their hands. 


I was determined on my part from what I had seen of your love and 
management for your hands not to have it said that the Spaniards 
had taken one of your men prisoner. 

When I first herd the Spaniards had taken up arms I went with 
Mr. Branch^ to see the owners of the Schooner you once had taken at 
Sandiago and showed them a letter Mr. Branch had and wanted 
them to set sail that evening for Monterey. I soon found out I was 
on a bad lead and how to get away from the Spaniards that was on 
the Beach was my next undertaking. I stayed on the Schooner two 
days and nights and then I left the vessel and went ashore just at 
dark. I lay on the sand about two hours thinking if the Spaniards 
was watching for me they would in this time give me out and leave, 
so I started then to go on to Mr. Branches fifteen miles. I followed 
the road about three quarters mile where I had to pass a cave where 
the farmers deposited their potatoes to keep them dry untill the ships 
would carry them off when I got nearly opposite the cave I saw fire 
which was struck with a flint and steel. I then stoped one moment 
and the person spoke. The instant he spoke I started up the road as 
hard as my legs would carry me. I ran about one hundred yards and 
came to the forks of the Road — one leading to the beach and the 
other leading to a house not far off. I took the road leading to the 
house. I thought they would least suspect me of going that way. I 
ran about one hundred yds. [on] the road leading to the house and 
then lay down about 25 steps off the side the road. I lay there about 
10 minutes and there came along three Spaniards. I was lying in the 
forks of the Road but nearest the road leading to the house. One 
Spaniard came that Road and Two went the other road that led to 
the beach. The reason they did not catch me there I think was this: 
the farmers that had potatoes there had some Indians to watch that 
none was stolen and the Spaniards put the Indians to watch for me, 
and as they was in the cave they did not discover the signal until it 
was to late. After they passed me I got up and traveled to the Moun- 
tain. I there rested a little while and traveled all night. Made about 
15 miles that night. I lay close to the Road and slept what I could 
that day. Went that night close to Mr. Branches and watched all 
night to see if the Spaniards was there watching for me. I could dis- 
cover none. I lay round about there two days and two nights and 
about 4 hours. During this time I never eat one mouthful of victuals. 
I then went to the Mountains and stay there about one week. I then 
came in the Spanish settlement where there was a Dutchman lived 


that I was acquainted with. I saw one of^the Indians that was work- 
ing for him. I told the indian in Spanish to tell the Dutchman to 
come and see me. We there agreed that I would stay in the willows 
close to the house and he would send me something to eat by the 
indians which he did for eight days. I was still expecting you every 
day. The Eighth day I left and went to the Mountains. I stay there 
some several weeks. At length harmer^ concluded he would go with 
me to Monterey if we could get a pilot. I went to Mr. Branches and 
got him to send me an Indian that was acquainted with the Country 
and we would go through the mountains and try to get to Monterey 
or some place where we could hear of you. While I lay in the Moun- 
tains I often heard the sound of Com. Stocktons cannon as he was 
passing up and down the coast. I killed several Beeves to live on 
while I was in the Mountains that belonged to the Spaniards. When 
I concluded to leave the Mountain I was in and go in search of you, 
Harmer another man and two indians [were] then in [my] com- 
pany. I started these two Indians out to hunt for some of the Span- 
iards horses so as we could ride; in a litde time we had 14 or 15 
horses. Some belonging to Spaniards and some of your horses that 
had given out near Mr. Denny [William G. Dana]. All was ready 
and we left the mountain. We traveled day and night as long as we 
had a horse that could go— all the horses gave out about 30 miles 
before we reached Monterey. I then took it a foot leaving the other 
men with the broke down horses. It was about two hours before 
day. I walked hard till day light. This was on the Salenus [Salinas] 
River. After light I had to take to the mountains and travel through 
them until I arrived at Monterey. I then got on board the Schooner 
that sailed for St. Barbara and there I overtook you. . . . 

AL incomplete, RC (CU-B). Despite the many details this man relates of 
his service with JCF, we have been unable to identify him. He seems not to 
have been a member of Talbot's party, which had been driven out of Santa 
Barbara into the mountains by a CaUfornian force under Manuel Garfias 
and had similar experiences. Talbot's party was able to join JCF in Monterey 
in time to march south with the battalion. Furthermore, it did not include 
Harmer, who is mentioned by the letter writer. 

1. Francis Z. Branch, who was living on his Rancho Santa Manuela in 
Arroyo Grande Valley, thirteen miles south of Mission San Luis Obispo. 
His aid would indicate that the letter writer's troubles began north of Santa 

2. ROGERS [3] lists Richard M. Harmer as being a member of Capt. William 
A. T. Maddox's company, which saw most of its service in the vicinity of 
Monterey in the fall of 1846. 

220. Ro^er Jones to Fremont 

W. D. A. G. O. Washington, Sept. 27. 1847. 

Herewith I enclose "General Orders" No. 32 of this date/ detail- 
ing the court martial by order of the President for your trial on 
charges and specifications recently filed against you by Brigadier 
General Kearney of the Army; and such other charges, (if any) as 
may seem to require investigation.^ 

It is contrary to the usage and practice of the service, to arraign an 
officer of the army on charges based upon anonymous newspaper 
publications, unvouched for by any one to sustain them. 

The Judge Advocate will in due time furnish you with a copy of 
the charges upon which you are to be tried. 

You will please to report in person to the presiding officer of the 
court at the time and place specified in the order. The time ap- 
pointed for the meetings of the Court, (November 2d.) is at as early 
a date as will enable the distant members and witnesses to attend. 

With respect to the orders under which you were brought back 
from California to the United States by General Kearney, I believe 
there was no special order for that purpose; the authority under 
which the General acted was derived, it may be supposed, from his 
general instructions from the War Department and as the officer 
commanding in chief the land forces in California. 

Agreeably to your request, I enclose herewith copies of the com- 
munications from the Hon. Mr. Benton, respectively dated June 14th 
and August 22d.^ requesting your arrest and trial. 

With respect to the publication in the "Union" on the 18th instant, 
of your official note to the Department dated the 17th (the subject of 
your letter of the 20th,) it is proper to remark that you are correct in 
apprehending (as you state to be the case on further reflection) that 
such publication would be contrary to the proprieties of the mili- 
tary service. But, under the circumstances as explained by you, no 
exception will be taken to it. 

Please to consider this communication as the answer to your letters 
of the 17th and 20th of September which have been duly submitted 
to the Secretary of War. I am. Sir, &c. 

R. Jones, Adjt. Genl. 


Lbk (DNA-94, LS, 24:210-11). 

1. See cT. MARTIAL, 2. The word "President" was inadvertently omitted 
from the order, but when that omission was ascertained, the Adjutant General 
sent a substitute order on 26 Oct. (see Doc. Nos. 243 and 244). 

2. Kearny had filed against JCF a single charge of mutiny, with eight 
specifications and nineteen supporting documents (Kearny to R. Jones, 11 
Sept. 1847, DNA-94, LR, K-217 1847). As finally drawn by the judge 
advocate, however, there were three charges: (1) mutiny, (2) disobedience 
of the lawful command of his superior officer, and (3) conduct to the preju- 
dice of good order and military discipline. For the numerous specifications, 

see CT. MARTIAL, 4-27. 

3. See Doc. Nos. 202 and 208. 

221. Fremont to Roger Jones 

Washington City Sep. 27. 1847 

I have the honor to request that the enclosed paper may be filed in 
the War Office in addition to the Charges made against me by Genl. 
Kearny. Very respectfully Your Obedient Servant, 

}. C. Fremont 
Lt. Col. Mounted Riflemen 
To Genl. Roger Jones 
Adjt. Genl., Washington City 

[Enclosure from the Louisville Journal] 
Friday, April 30, 1847. 

The Difficulties in California. — We mentioned, on Wednes- 
day, that the New York Courier and Enquirer spoke of a serious 
difficulty as having occurred in California between Gen. Kearney 
and Com. Stockton. Yesterday we learned something further upon 
the subject. 

Com. Stockton's despatches have been published in the Washing- 
ton Union. Yesterday, a bearer of despatches passed through this city 
on his way to Washington. We learn by a gentleman direct from 
California that Com. Stockton's despatches are full of false repre- 
sentations. Our informant, whom we consider worthy of the fullest 
reliance, makes a statement very discreditable to Com. Stockton and 
Lieut. Col. Fremont. We will give the outlines of this statement. 

Com. Stockton, it is well known, had been acting for some 


months as Governor of California. Gen. Kearney, at the head of a 
body of troops, went out to California, with authority from the 
President of the United States to supersede Stockton in the Gover- 
norship of the territory. When he arrived at the village of San Pasqual 
with a force short of one hundred men, all worn out by a march of 
two thousand five hundred miles across the desert, he ecountered 
two hundred Mexicans. At the head of seventy of his men he charged 
the Mexicans, and, after a desperate fight, in which he lost thirty-five 
killed and wounded, he put the enemy to flight. One of his principal 
officers was killed, and all the rest, as well as himself, were wounded. 
After the battle, he found himself without horses or mules and con- 
sequently without the means of moving forward with his emaciated, 
worn-out, and wounded men. In his condition he sent seventy-five 
miles to Com. Stockton with a representation of his situation and a 
requisition for horses and a reinforcement of men. Stockton rudely 
refused to grant his requisition, remarking — "Let him stay where he 
is, he has no business to come out here to supersede me!" 

With the greatest difficulty. Gen, Kearney succeeded in reaching 
San Diego where Stockton was stationed, and, finding there more 
men than were necessarv to garrison the town, he requested Stockton 
to let him have a portion of them for the purpose of marching on 
the Puebla de los Angelos, the centre of Mexican power in Cali- 
fornia. Stockton peremptorily refused to let him have the men. The 
refusal created great dissatisfaction among Stockton's own officers, 
who were consequently on the point of rebelling against his author- 
ity and joining Kearney, but the latter exerted his influence in sup- 
pressing the movement. Subsequently Stockton, finding that the 
opinions of all were against him, granted a portion of his force to 
Gen. Kearney, who then moved upon Los Angelos and captured it 
after a sharp conflict. Kearney was the commanding officer in this 
battle although Stockton, in his despatches, represents himself as the 

After the taking of Los Angelos, Lieut. Col. Fremont arrived 
there with his troops and reported himself and them to Gen. 
Kearney as his superior officer. Learning that Gen. Kearney had 
authority from the U. S. Government to act as Governor of Cali- 
fornia, he requested the General to appoint him Governor. Gen. K. 
declined doing so at that time, but said that he would take the matter 
into consideration and let Col. Fremont know his decision in a few 
days. Fremont, angry that his request was not at once complied with, 


withdrew his troops from Gen. Kearney's command without author- 
ity, went to Com. Stockton, and soHcited from him the appointment 
of Governor; and, strange to say, Stockton actually assumed the 
power to appoint Fremont Governor, although Kearney was upon 
the ground with a Governor's commission from the President of the 
United States! 

These facts, and a great many others of the same character, we are 
informed, are set forth in Gen. Kearney's despatches, which will be 
published in Washington city in a few days. 

LS, RC (DNA-94, LR, F-233 1847, f/w F-255 1847). Endorsed: "Re- 
ferred to the Judge Advocate. R. Jones, Sept. 27. 1847." The body of the 
letter was written by JBF, the signature is JCF's. On the reverse side are 
two notes: the first is in Benton's hand, the second signed by JCF. 

"I was in Louisville the day of this publication. Capt. Emory arrived there 
the day before, from California, and was understood to be the informant. In 
consequence I addressed him a note immediately through Major T. L. Smith 
at Washington, and have never understood that he denied being Prentice's 

"I affirm that this publication is entirely untrue both as it concerns Com. 
Stockton and myself. J. C. Fremont, Lt. Col. Mtd. Riflemen." 

222. William L. Marcy to Fremont 

War Department 
Washington, September 27, 1847 

The enclosed papers were sent sometime since, by the Secretary of 
State to this Department for the purpose of having measures adopted 
to investigate the charges therein preferred by the French Govern- 
ment, and to ascertain the true character of the transactions referred 
to, so that the Secretary of State might be able to make a proper 
reply to the application of the French Minister.^ 

These papers now transmitted to you for such explanations as you 
are enabled, and may deem proper, to give. Should it be necessary or 
required to take further steps in the case, and to obtain the testimony 
or explanations of other persons than yourself in California or the 
United States, I shall be obliged to you for the names and residences 
of such persons and for any statements as to the facts which may be 


established by them relative to the matter referred to in the enclosed 
papers. Such suggestions from you as will enable this Government 
to ascertain the facts of the case and to present it in its true character 
to that of France is respectfully desired. I am, with great respect, 
Your Obt. Serv., 

W. L. Marcy 
Secretary of War 

P. S. The papers herewith sent are the copies from the State Depart- 
ment, and you are requested to return them, but should you desire 
copies of them they will be furnished. 

Lbk (DNA-107, LS, 28:47). 

1. The French minister to the United States, Alphonse Pageot, had called 
Buchanan's attention to the proceedings of JCF and other American officers 
against Clement Panaud and his clerk, Theophile Dague. He expressed the 
hope that once the U.S. government was assured of the validity of the com- 
plaints, it would "call to a severe account the officers who had been guilty of 
these outrages, and will amply indemnify those individuals for the losses 
and injuries which they have sustained" (Pageot to Buchanan, 28 June 1847, 
with seven enclosures, DNA-94, LR, M-376 1849). The enclosures were: (1) 
J. A. Moerenhout to W. A. T. Maddox, 4 Nov. 1846, complaining of the 
revocation of a travel permit for Panaud; (2) Maddox to Moerenhout, 4 
Nov. 1846, stating that the complaint had been referred to JCF for an answer; 
(3) Moerenhout to Maddox, 7 Nov. 1846, protesting against JCF's failure 
to respond by letter or action; (4) JCF to Moerenhout, 7 Nov. 1846, our Doc. 
No. 80; (5) Moerenhout to JCF, 8 Nov. 1846, our Doc. No. 81; (6) Maddox 
to Moerenhout, 8 Nov. 1846, stating that future communications about 
Panaud should be addressed directly to JCF; and (7) the deposition of Theo- 
phile Dague, 23 Nov. 1846, detailing his cruel treatment at the hands of the 
Americans, with the implication that they had stolen $420 in gold from him. 

223. Fremont to William L. Marcy 

Washington City Sep. 28th. 1847 

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communica- 
tion of the 27th. inst. accompanied by the documents referred by the 
Secretary of State to the Department of War, and requiring from me 
some explanation in regard to charges preferred by the French gov- 
ernment for outrages & injuries said to be inflicted upon certain 
French subjects, by the American authorities in that territory. 


In reply I respectfully make the following statements, which are 
necessarily brief in the absence of books & other papers to which I 
might refer for certain information. 

1. That portion of the territory where the events under considera- 
tion occurred was at that time in a state of insurrection and had been 
declared to be under the government of strict martial law. 

2. Certain regulations deemed by the commandant of Monterey 
necessary to the safety of the place, had been violated by the com- 
plainant M. Pannaud who was in consequence, arrested by Capt. 
Maddox. Out of this arrest grew the correspondence between the 
French consul and the American authorities and the claim for dam- 
ages made by said Pannaud. 

3. The case was referred by me to the civil authorities (Walter 
Colton being the Judge or Alcalde) and Pannaud being required to 
make oath to the claim, which he, & the consul of France in his 
name, had preferred, did entirely refuse to do so preferring rather to 
make a formal renunciation of his claims, which was accordingly 
done.^ Thomas O. Larkin Esq. and Captain Maddox were present 
on this occasion, conducting the case, which was as a matter of course 
considered to be terminated. It was considered by me that the prefer- 
ring of the claim had been a conspiracy to defraud and it could have 
been incontestibly proved that said claim was grossly false. With this 
knowledge claimant had been required to certify on oath to its cor- 

4. It may not be improper to state for the information of the De- 
partment and in justification of my letter to the Consul of France 
that I had understood from Mr. Larkin and other respectable mer- 
chants of California that the said consul was known during his resi- 
dence in the Sandwich Islands to be a man of troublesome character, 
much disposed [to] create & foment difficulties; for these reasons 
I considered his absence from the seat of operations at that time 
highly expedient." 

In the case of T. Dague I have to state that this man was brought 
to my encampment at the mission of Saint Johns by one of the Cap- 
tains of the California Battalion U. S. troops, charged with being a 
spy. A court martial was accordingly called, consisting of officers of 
the Battalion and after a full hearing said Dague was condemned & 
sentenced to receive twenty-six lashes. The sentence was as a neces- 
sary measure approved by me and partially executed, the criminal re- 
ceiving eighteen lashes. My presence with him & attention to him 


after the infliction of the punishment, was due simply to humanity & 
not from any beHef in the innocence of the prisoner. Of the loss of 
money alledged by him I heard nothing at the time, nor at any sub- 
sequent time during my residence at California.^ When I shall be in 
possession of my papers I may be able to communicate if desired far- 
ther information from the proceedings of the court martial & other 
notes; although at the time neither of these cases much occupied my 

I also respectfully refer the Department to Thomas O. Larkin late 
American Consul at Monterey & Capt. Wm. A. Maddox, for more 
detailed information.'* I am very respectfully Sir, Your obedient 

J. C. Fremont, 
Lieut. Col. Mounted Riflemen 
Hon. Wm. Marcy 
Sec. at War. 

LS, RC (DNA-107, F-98 [66]). Endorsed: "Entd. Oct. 9 '47." 

1. The French consul believed Panaud renounced his claims out of fear 
(see Doc. No. 81, n. 1). 

2. Moerenhout had been a resident of the Society Islands, not the Sandwich 
Islands. His enemies there may have considered him a "troublesome char- 
acter," because he proved their equal in intrigue, but — as Moerenhout pointed 
out to the board of officers convened to inquire into the affair — his conduct 
in the Society Islands had nothing to do with his service as French consul at 
Monterey (see J. A. Moerenhout's testimony, 19 June 1848, in report of the 
board of officers summoned to hear complaints of certain Frenchmen, DNA- 
94, LR, M-376 1849). 

3. A twenty-two-year-old Frenchman in the employ of Panaud, Theophile 
Dague had been seized at the ranch of Jose Joaquin Gomez after the battle 
of Natividad because, he said, he had chastised some of JCF's men, whom 
he accused of stealing articles from the Gomez house. Testimony of others 
indicated that he may have used language abusive of the American officers 
and flag. Dague fainted during the flogging, and when he revived, he charged 
that his money belt containing $420 in gold was missing from his body (see 
Dague's testimony, 28 Sept. 1848, same file). 

4. Because of incomplete evidence, the board of officers felt unable to report 
all the facts. It did conclude that there had been no reason for JCF to suggest 
that Moerenhout remove his office to San Francisco, and that Clement Panaud 
had indeed suffered losses, not only when he was prevented personally from 
attending to the sale of his goods but also by the detention and flogging of 
Dague, who had been sent to San Jose to take care of Panaud's business 
(report of the board of officers, 29 Jan. 1849, same file). 


224. Thomas H. Benton to Fremont 

Woodford Co. Ken. Oct. 3d. 1847. 
Dear Sir, 

Letters from Jessie of the 28th arrived this morning, containing 
the order for your trial at Fortress Monroe. The place will not pre- 
vent me from attending, tho inconvenient to both of us; I shall there- 
fore hasten the conclusion of my business to this State, and propose 
to start back in a w^eek. 

With respect to the trial upon Kearneys charges, they are absurd, 
as he did not assume the command until after the 1st of March, and 
did not go to California by virtue of his orders, and acted under 
Stockton when he got there, and gave you mere orders of contradic- 
tion over the California Battalion raised under Stockton, of which 
he did not assume the command until he settled the question of 
authority with Stockton's superior (Com. Shubrick). 

With respect to the newspaper publications, they cannot be con- 
sidered as anonymous, Capt. Emory being mentioned by me as the 
imputed author (which he has not denied) and besides the editors 
of the Picayune, Louisville Journal, St. Louis Republican & Pittsburg 
Gazette, all vouch the respectability of the informant, and they are 
not anonymous. 

The court is a very respectable one. The acquittal upon the charges 
is easy enough, but you are entitled to credit for your conduct in 
California, and the misconduct of others deserves to be exposed. 
These gentry shall all have their conduct brought out. The drawing 
up of the written defense will afford a proper occasion for an ample 
view of your conduct, and will become a great historical document. 
The authentic & formal demand which you have made for a trial 
on all the publications against you, and no one appearing to sustain 
them, is received by the public as a vindication, and the publication 
of the letter in [the] Union, and thence into other papers, covers all 
the authors of these publications, Emory especially, with the oppro- 
brium of calumniators. That publication has given the course to 
public opinion on the whole subject. 

I conceive that you have a right to a court of inquiry on the news- 
paper publications, and I look upon it as the duty of congress to 
enquire into the conduct of all the officers in the California conquest. 
This I will attend to myself: as to the court of Inquiry, it has not yet 


been refused and, it would be easy for some members of the court 
martial to constitute it. I will write frequently. 

Thomas H. Benton 

ALS, RC (CLSM). Also in f. m. wheat, 153. 

225. Fremont to William L. Marcy 

Washington City, Oct. 4th 1847 
To the Hon. Mr. Marcy, 

In looking through my papers I find the within renunciation of 
claim by Clement Pannaud one of the plaintiffs in the case recendy 
submitted by the French minister to the Secretary of State & referred 
to yourself.^ 

I respectfully enclose it for your information & request that itself 
or a copy may be returned to me. Very respectfully Sir your Obdt. 

J. C. Fremont, 
Lt. Col. U. S. A. 



Magistrate's Office, Monterey 
November 10' 1846 

I hereby voluntarily and without any compulsion do declare that I 
renounced all claims, of whatever nature may have been made in my 
behalf by Mr. Morenhout, Consul of France against the Government 
of the United States of America in his official letter of the 7th instant 
to William A. T. Maddox Esq. Military Commandant of the Middle 
Department of California, 

(Signed) Clement Panaud 

(Signed) Witness and Interpreter 
W. E. P. Hartnell 
Wm. R. Garner 


The above document was drawn, signed and delivered in my pres- 
ence and in my office this 10th day of November 1846. 

Walter Colton 
Chief Magistrate 

The above is a true copy of the original document as drawn by the 
Secretary of the Magistrate's Office. 

William R. Garner 
Secretary of the Magistrate's Office 

ALS-JBF, RC (DNA-107, LR, F-96 [66]). Endorsed: "Ansd. 6 Oct. 

1. See Marcy to Fremont, 27 Sept. 1847 and Fremont to Marcy, 28 Sept. 
1847, Doc. Nos. 222 and 223. For background documents, see Fremont to 
Moerenhout, 7 Nov. 1846, and Moerenhout to Fremont, 8 Nov. 1846, Doc. 
Nos. 80 and 81. 

226. William L. Marcy to Fremont 

War Department 
Washington, Oct. 6, 1847 

I have the honor to return, herewith, as requested by you, the 
paper accompanying your letter of the 4th. instant purporting to be a 
copy of an act executed by C. Panaud in California, renouncing 
claims made in his behalf against the United States: a copy of the 
paper now returned has been made and filed with your letter. Very 
respectfully Your Obt. Servt., 

W. L. Marcy 
Secretary of War 
Lt. Col. J. C. Fremont, U.S.A. 
Washington City 

Lbk (DNA-107, LS, 28:65). 


227. Thomas H. Benton to Fremont 

Woodford Co. Ken. Oct. 7, 1847 
Dear Sir, 

The copy of the Judge Advocates letter of the 1st ins. to you, came 
to hand today, and in looking over the ten specifications, I find all of 
them to be anterior to the settlement of the question of rank with 
Shubrick, and consequently all amounting to the same thing. I do 
not know when the settlement of the question was militarily, or reg- 
ularly, communicated to you, but // so communicated at all, it must 
have been late in March; consequently all the specifications refer to 
acts done before Kearny had [been] relieved of the land command, 
and made that change known to you. We shall demolish him with 
all ease, & overwhelm him with disgrace. 

The newspaper article from the Louisville Journal being put into 
the hands of the Judge Advocate, without instructions what to do 
with it, seems to leave it to your option to require charges upon it, 
and will be so considered if you do not. I, therefore, recommend you 
to require charges and specifications to be made out on all the points 
they contain, and even take the charge without specifications: 
Emory, of course, to be a witness. To make sure I recommend you to 
specify the points, by no means omitting one which you will find in 
some of the publications, that you and Stockton had mismanaged &c. 
until Kearney arrived to set all right. 

The fellow Bryant is in Lexington, and to meet him summon 

Brown [ ?]^ of the same neighborhood who is well spoken of by our 
friends for his faithful conduct towards you. 

I wanted Hall to be summoned: we will finish his career in Mri. 
[Missouri]. He has been making speeches against you. I will write 
to my friends in the Platte country for a statement of what he has 

Kearny brought all his witnesses from California with him, and 
all of them your enemies, & most of them engaged with him against 
you. He little knows how this will be turned against him. A military 
superior, perfidiously concealing his design, collects charges and 
witnesses to be used against a person ignorant of his design, con- 
ducted by him as a prisoner 3000 miles without giving him a chance 
to defend himself by bringing testimony to the scene of operations. 


It is not only base, but shows a design to convict by unfair & foul 

You will have to employ counsel: it will be more nominal than 
otherwise as I shall do the work. I would suggest Fendall,^ who has 
been employed for the family in Sally McDowell's case.^ It will be 
hard for you to get counsel to go to Fortress Monroe to be gone, one, 
two [or] three months. This may be a reason for a change of place. 
It will be a new case if, after Kearny has brought you [from] Cali- 
fornia without witnesses, the government shall send you to a fort in 
the sea, to be tried without counsel! It will be a case for the interfer- 
ence of your friends, & for accepting the aid from Charleston which 
will pay counsel fees. I shall be with you to the end, if it takes up the 
whole session of Congress. 

If the place of trial is not changed before I get there, I will make a 
point of it. 

I repeat: I wish you to require the judge advocate to make out 
charges on all the points of accusation, or insinuation against you, 
in the publications even dispensing with specifications where the 
charge was only in general terms, and for that purpose to name each 
point yourself in the words of the publications. The pardon of Jesus 
Pico — the capitulation granted Andres Pico — the duel affair with 
Mason must all be in. 

Use your privilege of summoning witnesses without stint. 

You will want copies of all orders to the Naval commanders in 
Cal. & to Kearny also. Yours, 


ALS, RC (CLSM). Addressed to JCF at C Street in Washington. Also 
in F. M. WHEAT, 151-53. 

1. F. M. WHEAT transcribes the almost illegible surname as Brennan, whose 
identity the editors have been unable to determine. He may have had in mind 
Samuel Brannan, the chief of the Mormon colony, who reached Sari Fran- 
cisco on 31 July 1846 and whose name was sometimes written as Brennan. 
Although Brannan had learned the printer's trade in Ohio and traveled 
through many parts of the country, he seems never to have been in Kentucky. 
Soon after reaching San Francisco, Brannan began publishing the Star. He 
was not summoned from California to testify, and more likely Benton is 
referring to William Brown, who was summoned as a witness (ct. martial, 
298). Brown himself is an elusive figure. A Mr. Brown of Lexington, Ky., 
traveled part of the way to California with Edwin Bryant and William H. 
Russell in 1846 (bryant, 49), and a Lieutenant Brown commanded Russell's 
escort from California in the spring of 1847 (garrard, 328). Garrard indicates 
that only two years earlier the young lieutenant had emigrated to California 
and from there had visited the Hawaiian Islands. He returned to California 


in the closing days of the war and received an appointmen